Part III – June 4 - 5, 2019
At night, the soundscape of the flooded Treasure Hills subdivision changes dramatically. The conversations and shouts of the sandbaggers are replaced by a cacophony of swamp noise. The only constant is the drone of the sump pumps.
Sitting in the dark in the Hargett breezeway with Bryan’s son Bradley Hargett, we get a chance to reflect. Bradley was on his way to Nashville, Tennessee, to start a new job when he heard about the flood. Over the past year, he and his dad hadn’t talked much. Now, as they work side-by-side, the struggle, the younger Hargett says, “ … has brought me and my dad so much closer together.”
When I leave Hargett Island to check on the Johnson place, it is around 11 p.m. I have a headlamp on to illuminate my way through the waist-deep water. Halfway between the sandbagged wall and the road, I trip on something. Within seconds, I’m surrounded by at least four snakes. For better or worse, my audio recorder is on: this is what I sound like when I’m terrified.
Aside from the profanity (sorry, Granny), I think I handled that pretty well. I remained quiet enough so that I shouldn’t have disturbed anyone who was sleeping, and I got out of the water rather quickly. But this experience did put an end to my nighttime shooting.
Daylight and Hope
By Wednesday morning, it kind of feels like we’ve turned a corner on this. Since the snake episode, I’ve taken to using Chuck Dovish’s “Exploring Arkansas” kayak. (Thanks, Chuck!!!) I can see the water has receded a bit. It is encouraging, but this is still so surreal.
Bouncing between two homes embroiled in the same terrible circumstance, the concern each family has for the other is heartening. It does my naturally cynical heart a lot of good to witness it. They’ve never met (something I hope to rectify soon), but they are now bound by a common struggle. A struggle that, as I write this, is far from over.
AETN producer Kevin Thomas Clark – a Blytheville native – will provide ongoing coverage of the historic 2019 Arkansas River flood in the Conway area through blogs and a digital-first video series. Watch for updates in coming weeks on the AETN Engage blog and AETN social media outlets.