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Dr. Carol Gilbert (AP)

Ark. Flood Toll Now 19 Dead, 1 Missing

Jun 13, 2010

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Frank James

As of Sunday afternoon, the death toll from the flash flood that hit campgrounds in southwest Arkansas early Friday was 19.

But in a welcome piece of news, authorities tell the media they are now searching for just one missing person. That is down from the dozens of missing peopke officials had earlier said they were searching for.

Authorities explained that their estimate for the number of missing was based on calls that came in from worried family and friends who knew a person who had gone camping in Arkansas but may not have specifically known where exactly in the state they went camping.

Presumably some of those previously reported as missing have checked in or returned home from their outings and their names were crossed off the list.

Earlier reports indicated that police have been checking license plates on cars in the area of the flooding to develop additional names of people might have been flooding victims.

That they have whittled a list of a couple of dozen down to one suggests police have connected cars they have found in the affected area to victims already found. Or they haven't discovered the cars of any of those reported missing in the flooded area about 95 miles west of Little Rock.

As the Associated Press reported:

Authorities haven't been able to contact some of the nearly two dozen people who hadn't been accounted for Saturday, but they don't believe those people were in the Albert Pike Recreation Area, the section of the Ouachita National Forest hardest hit by flooding, State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said.

He said those people are likely camping elsewhere in Arkansas, and that's why they haven't been reachable.

"Typically when people go on vacation or camping trips, they want to turn those cell phones off," Sadler said. "That's the reason they're on vacation."

Arkansas Online has a sad piece with background on some of the victims. Some were children who were camping with adult relatives when heavy rains Friday morning caused the Little Missouri and Caddo rivers to swiftly rise by more than 20 feet, forcing water to sweep through camp sites, sweeping the victims to their deaths.

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