(HELENA-CROSSING)-HELENA-WEST HELENA -- Residents living in the area of Highways 20 and 44 as they intersect at Helena Crossing are in desperate need of assistance. The highway is flooded. Farm fields, some of them, are flooded. Ditches are full and backed up. Yards are covered with water. Citizens are standing out talking to each, looking around, calling on their phones and wanting some help.
The Helena West Helena Fire Department assisted with some removals this morning. Residents are complaining, however, that they have called the Mayor's Office looking for Mayor Arnell Willis and were not able to reach him. Their gripe however was not that fact.They asked for the city provided cell phone number for the street department supervisor, Mr. Oscar Hoskins, and were told, "it's private and we can not give it to you." Through other means, we have been told, citizens did dial Mr. Hoskins number (870)338-0180 and speak with him.
Mr. Hoskins reportedly appeared on the scene just after Mr. Tommy Cole drove a city provided vehicle to the neighborhood. Mr. Hoskins reportedly told the residents that he would do his best to assist and that he had "never seen it like this."
One of the problems in this area is the apparent fact that the homes are built below the level of Highway 44. The rain water drains from Highway 44 directly toward these homes. There are at least three culverts that pull water from the farm land directly into the neighborhood. At the time of this writing, we were not able to ascertain which occurred first: the homes were built or the highway was raised. The problem, in part, appears to be that the drainage north of the neighborhood is not properly maintained by the appropriate levy district. On top of that fact, we are experiencing what could be record downpours. Then one additional wrinkle is the fact that the farm land directly across Highway 20 has been contoured, perhaps recently, to drain down and across over into the neighborhood bringing more water than usual to the doorsteps, window seals, and driveways of these residents.
Here's a slide show depicting the scenes from Helena Crossing earlier today. Take note that the four wheeler, backhoe and Budget trucks are seen on Highway 20 near the Helena Crossing School. This water is headed toward the neighborhood from the south. The pictures on Highway 44 show that water is poured down on this neighborhood from the northeast.
Reverend Danny Robinson, a neighborhood spokesperson, said "I've never seen it this bad down here." He continued, "something must be done . . . people should be forced to live like this." Several other residents echoed Robinson's sentiments. They remained hopeful that help was on the way from the American Red Cross, The City of Helena-West Helena, or some proper agency.
Civil Service Commissioner Tommy Cole surveyed the area along with Police Chief Ray Price. Mr. Cole is working to get state officials to assist with hotel rooms and other accommodations for the stranded residents. We have no word on the capacity in which Mr. Tommy Cole was operating. He was chauffeuring Mr. Price at the time of the grand visit to the wetlands of Helena Crossing.