The White River was expected to crest at 17 feet Friday. After torrential rains moved through the state earlier in the week, rising water made its way down from higher elevations. Thursday afternoon, people were visiting parks on both sides of the river to check out the debris flowing downstream. Independence County Sheriff Shawn Stephens gave the following statement:

“We would want to remind people not to drive in the water because you do not know what is underneath it and to turn around and don’t drown. We will be having some roads closed I’m sure and when they see a road closed sign, do not go around them. They are there for a reason and for the public’s safety.”

As residents and volunteers clean up after flooding in the state, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) urges anyone involved in clean up to be aware of the health risks. Floodwater can contain bacteria, viruses and other organisms that cause disease. Beside the rising water driving river animals, such as snakes, from their habitat, often receding floodwater can reveal dead animal carcasses.

Avoid skin contact with flood water, and keep cuts and sores clean and covered.

Do not allow children to play in flood water.

Do not eat or drink anything exposed to flood water.

Wash hands frequently.

Get rid of any contaminated objects that cannot be thoroughly cleaned.

Wash contaminated surfaces and objects with warm, soapy water and disinfect with a bleach and water solution made of one cup of bleach per one gallon of water. Home or laundry disinfectant can be used for objects that would be damaged by bleach.

Do not use ammonia. Ammonia vapors mixed with bleach vapors create a poisonous gas.

Private wells impacted by flooding will need to be tested for total coliforms and E. coli, which are indicators of bacterial contamination in drinking water. Do not drink water from a well until it has been disinfected and tested.

Due to the likelihood of a debris-related injury after a flood, it is recommended that all responders and residents make sure that they are up-to-date with the tetanus shot.

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