Torrential rain sends unoccupied houseboats down Arkansas River

Published online: May 04, 2011 News Katherina Yancy -
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(KATV) Little Rock - Even boats could not escape the flash flooding. At River Valley Marina, the strength of the current pulled the docks from the marina sending them down stream.

Ken Walton works at Camp Robinson so he bought a boat to live on during the week and then goes home to Jonesboro on the weekends. But his wife and daughter happen to be in town, staying with him because he has orders to report for duty out of state this week. They made it off the boat in time to watch it wash away.

Looking through his belonging, Walton says, "Pardon me if I'm a little jumpy, every time the house boat moves I'm looking to make sure we're still tied."

Water levels in the natural state have remained high this week, but with increase rain over night and fast moving currents, docks detach from River Valley Marina at about 6 a.m.

"I moved into it last spring. After they had a flood Christmas Eve and washed everything away the marina owner told me in 34-years that's the first flood they ever had." Walton laughs, "So I figured it should be safe to move in now they've had two in less than 2-years."

Boats came loose floating down the river, crashing into each other.

Just Saturday Walton posted a for sale sign on another houseboat, within 24-hours he watched it tip back, catch water and sink. The boat Walton and his family were on is new. He shows Channel Seven, "The damage on this one is where the other docks went on each side of it, slammed into it and crunched it in the middle."

For Walton, sleeping on the waves and waking up to the scenery and wildlife is still worth returning. Not discouraged, he's already planning to remodel or buy a new boat. He jokes, "If it doesn't sink before I get a chance to get it out of here."

A spokesperson with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says the water level is too high and dangerous for emergency crews to attempt to catch the moving boats.

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