Earlier this month, the state experienced record flooding that impacted a number of communities along the Arkansas River, causing extensive damage. Several levees were impacted, as a result, including the breach of the Holla Bend Levee in Yell County. For those reasons, Gov. Asa Hutchinson today issued Executive Order 19-10 to create the Arkansas Levee Task Force to study and analyze the current conditions of the state’s levees.
Members of the Task Force will also identify sources and requirements for funding the construction, repair, and maintenance of the levees; study prospective monitoring and reporting systems for maintenance of the levees; and review adequacy of current laws and organizational structure of the levee system and levee district boards.
Hutchinson said he will request legislative approval for $10 million to be made available through the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, in consultation with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, for immediate levee repair.
“The Flood of 2019 revealed the many weaknesses in our state’s system of levees and points to the urgent need to formulate a plan to coordinate inspection and maintenance in cooperation with the Corps of Engineers and the local levee boards,” Hutchinson said. “We can’t postpone this planning until another historic flood puts us to a test. The Arkansans who live and work along our waterways depend on our leaders to secure their safety as much as humanly possible by ensuring we incorporate the best practices and technology to fortify our levees.”
The Task Force shall provide a report of its findings and make recommendations to the governor for improved monitoring and maintenance of the state’s levee system by December 31, 2019. The Task Force may provide additional reports and recommendations to the governor as necessary.
Members of the Task Force are:
Jami Cook – Chairman
Secretary, Department of Public Safety
Arkansas Land Commissioner
Secretary, Department of Agriculture
Secretary, Department of Finance and Administration
Director, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission
Director, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management
Director, Arkansas Waterways Commission
Director, Geographic Information Office
The Task Force will also include at least one county judge, one county clerk, and one municipal elected official. Additional citizens, including legislators, with knowledge of the engineering, construction, funding, or oversight of levees, as well as citizens representing flood-impacted areas, shall be added, as the governor deems necessary.