Crews Find Body of 20th Flood Victim in Ark. River

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After a weekend of intense searching, the Arkansas State Police announced searchers have found the body of the last person known to have gone missing when a flash flood swept through a popular camp ground on the Little Missouri River near Langley, Arkansas.

Spokesman Bill Sadler said searchers found the body of a 20th victim Monday morning and that crews would continue scouring the rugged wilderness in and around the Albert Pike Recreation Area.

State police declined to identify the body, which was found floating in the Little Missouri River. But Capt. Mike Fletcher said searchers weren't sure if it matched the description of the last person they were looking for.

18 Victims Identified

Authorities on Sunday narrowed their search to just one remaining missing person. Eighteen of the 20 victims have been publicly identified and there were seven children aged 7 years or younger among them. Eight of the 18 were from Louisiana, seven were from Texas and three were from Arkansas.

All-terrain vehicles worked their way through wild and tangled woodlands as divers continued to look for bodies in the Little Missouri River, which rose 20 feet in just 4 hours, catching sleeping campers off guard.

"It's pretty tough, you got a lot of trees, lot of limbs, lot of brush to go through, a lot of mud, pretty rough out there," said Neal Johnson of Piney Fire Department.

Tales of Survival

Some survivors have shared their harrowing stories of survival.

Terry Whatley and his family were trapped in his camping trailer when the water rose fast and high. He had to tow his nephew and his 74-year-old mother through neck-high, rushing water to safety.

"When I grabbed her and I told her what was fixing to happen, I said 'Mom, you just have to trust that I'm not going to let you go,'" he said. "And I was just praying to God that I wasn't going to let her go, because two or three times I thought I was going to lose her."

Floodwaters rose swiftly at a reported 8 feet per hour, pouring through the remote valley with such force that it peeled asphalt from roads. Cabins along the river banks were severely damaged, and mobile homes were tossed on their sides.

Marc and Stacy McNeil of Marshall, Texas were in their pickup truck.

"I backed it up and rammed it in between two trees and stuck it," Marc said. "We crawled in the back in waited it out."

Forecasters had issued advisories on the river's potential to flood, but many of the campers may have missed the warnings due to the campground's isolated location.

 

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.