Communities: Know the Risk

What's Next on the Path?

  • Discovery

The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) is investigating the Big Watershed (HUC8 #08020304) to review the current flood risk and identify potential long-term risk reduction projects that local communities are interested in pursuing.  This project is being performed under a Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP) agreement between the ANRC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Big Watershed encompasses an area of approximately 947 square miles and extends across five counties (Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis, and Woodruff) in the eastern portion of the State. The major communities in the watershed include the cities of Brinkley, Helena-West Helena, Lake View, Marvell, and a small portion of Marianna. Smaller communities include Aubrey, Fargo, Hunter, LaGrange, Lexa, Moro, Rondo, and Wheatley.  

  1. The Big Watershed was selected by the ANRC, the State’s CTP with FEMA Region 6, for the reasons summarized below. Topographic data developed from a Light Detection and Ranging System (LiDAR) is available throughout the watershed aiding in providing quality data.
  2. Repetitive losses in the watershed have exceeded $3.2 million from 1978 through 2014, and there are over 780 policies. These reported values include entire counties which may or may not be wholly located in the watershed.
  3. Phillips County is the only county considered modernized. St. Francis County has a countywide study; however it is older. Both of these studies were completed without quality topographic data.
  4. The watershed includes the City of Brinkley, which experienced severe flooding in June 2014. This flooding event was a state-declared disaster.
  5. The communities of Helena-West Helena and Phillips County have multiple claims listed as BCX Claims, which are claims that occur outside the mapped floodplain. This indicates the need for additional review to determine if the effective maps are in need of update.
  6. Four of the five counties in the watershed have Hazard Mitigation Plans in preparation: Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis, and Woodruff Counties.

In May 2016, ANRC, as the State CTP, will hold Discovery Meetings in this watershed. During Discovery, ANRC and FEMA will reach out to local communities to:

  • Gather information about local flood risk and flood hazards;
  • Obtain and ultimately review current and historic mitigation plans to understand local mitigation capabilities, hazard risk assessments, and current or future mitigation activities; and
  • Include multi-disciplinary staff from within each community to participate and assist in the development of a watershed vision.

For more helpful information, look under Resources and Related Links.

For mapping questions, contact the FEMA Mapping Information eXchange (FMIX) – 1-877-336-2627.