Newport resident looking for help from Mayor on flooding concerns

Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 9:46 PM CST
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NEWPORT, Ark. (KAIT) - In Jackson County, one citizen is concerned about his community’s safety and health as flooding continues to be an issue, demanding his city leaders do something about it.

“From Sam’s house to my mom’s house, to about three houses down, if we don’t want to wade in the water, we have to park our cars at the opposite end of the street and then walk home,” Leila Street resident Kevin Lee said.

Flooding is an inconvenience for several who live on Leila Street in Newport. Living in a flood zone becomes a nightmare after heavy rain and Kevin Lee wants the mayor’s help.

“Unfortunately, for the Mayor, he inherited this problem and what I’m asking is for him to just come out and survey the area himself,” Lee said.

But, Newport Mayor David Stewart says he’s more than aware. Stewart told Region 8 News that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designated Lee’s area as a 100-year floodplain. Meaning, there’s a one-percent chance every year that the area will have a significant flood.

After Sunday’s recent rain, Stewart says the flooding was bound to happen.

“Jackson County was under a flash-flood-warning. We got almost five inches of rain and a floodplain area is flooded,” Stewart said. “50 years ago, when those houses were built, the city shouldn’t have never let them build them like they did in the flood zone.”

But, Kevin says proper care to the ditches could help.

“All of the debris and the grass that’s growing up so high, the water can’t flow freely to the place it needs to flow in order for us not to have this issue,” Lee said.

But, Stewart says every summer, crews from the city or the Arkansas Department of Corrections work program will come out and clean the ditch.

“Water still runs fine. They do need some cleaning. But, we can’t do it because of the sogginess around the ditch,” Stewart said.

After a heated discussion about this all at City Hall, both agree, they want a solution.

“I’m a firm believer in handling things at the lowest level, but it was at the point where the mayor told me that there is nothing that he can do, nothing that he should do, and nothing that he will do and that’s what made me escalate the issue and that’s my greatest concern,” Lee said.

“Anyone that has a problem with flooding or any other problems, if you’ll come to me, many times I can explain the situation and they’ll see that the city does everything that is possible to make it as right as it can be,” Stewart said.

Lee has started a petition to get the mayor removed from office. He says the mayor showed a lack of respect and slammed the door in his face while trying to discuss flooding in his area.

Mayor Stewart says he has no plans to step down.

Both confirmed that since that discussion, crews have been out cleaning as much as they can while the ground is still wet.

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