Cleaning up after the flood

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recent floods forced residents living in the Mallard Lake area out of their homes for about 10 days. The evacuation was fast and many did not have the opportunity to save any of their belongings.

Cleaning up after the flood.

The water has receded and residents have been able to return to their homes to begin clean up.

Jeremy Bennett, manager of Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge, headed a project to help the residents. Volunteers from area churches and other volunteers have been working with the residents since last week with the clean-up process.

There are about 15 homes with over 30 residents ranging from small children to senior citizens living in the area.

"Volunteers from local churches and individual volunteers have come out to help with the clean-up, dumpsters have been provided, churches have brought food, and progress is being made," Bennett said. "Some of these people have lost everything."

Bill Stone, a lifelong resident of the Mallard area, said his family has lived at Mallard for three generations.

"My grandfather lived here, my dad lived here, and I have raised my family here," Stone said. "This is the worst the water has been since 1937. It is hard to believe."

The Stone family, along with the other residents, want to get back into their homes.

Jeral Daniels is another resident who lost everything. His mobile home was under water for over a week and was completely ruined.

"We got out with just the clothes on our back," Daniels said. "We don't know what we are going to do yet."

Volunteers from the First Baptist Church have been taking food to the residents while they are cleaning up.

"I am grateful to all of the volunteers who are helping," Rick Cherry with the First Baptist Church said. "We can use more help if anyone has time to give. They are our neighbors and we need to do all we can to help them."

Manual Floyd, one of the newer residents, moved to his home in 2004. He left May 1 and returned May 10.

"This is my home," Floyd said. "The floors and insulation will need to be replaced but I am here to stay. This is the only place I have ever owned. I have no place to go."

An account has been set up at Heritage Bank under the name of Mallard Lake Flood Relief Fund to help with some of the immediate needs.

Bennett said the funding will be used to help with building supplies to replace floors, insulation and other needs.

"We have a long way to go," Bennett said. "The goal is to get all of the residents back in their homes and property with basic life necessities.

"FEMA representatives have assessed the initial damage and it is my understanding the assessment will be used to determine if there is the magnitude of damage to warrant a Federal disaster declaration."

This flood event is the largest event in the Little River area in living memory.

"We have been flooded many times, but never this deep," Bennett said.

For more information call Wanda Gamble at 870-561-3352 or 243-5371 or Jeremy Bennett at 532-7300.

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