Tropical Storm Isaac slowed down and weakened Wednesday (Aug. 29) after sidestepping New Orleans but still posed a potential flooding threat to Arkansas, where emergency officials were on alert to respond to any problems and some people were canceling travel plans for the upcoming holiday weekend, the Associated Press reported.
The track of the newly downgraded storm shifted west Wednesday, with the eye projected to reach northwest Arkansas by 1 p.m. Friday. It had been forecast to head through the middle of the state, and the track could change again. Downpours of up to 20 inches were possible.
Isaac came ashore late Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane, with 80 mph winds near the mouth of the Mississippi River. It drove a wall of water nearly 11 feet high inland.
With the Labor Day weekend approaching, the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department had plenty of cancellations at state campgrounds and lodges, many from Louisiana residents who decided to stay home because of the storm, agency spokeswoman Kat Robinson said.
At Maumelle Park campground on the Arkansas River just west of Little Rock, Tom Anderson, 80, was packing up his RV, but only so he could move to another campground in the area. He worked under a blue sky on a mild, breezy day with a few white clouds in the sky.
“I’m not concerned about (the storm). Weather’s weather,” Anderson said. “If the water’s coming up, they get you out of here.”
That hasn’t always been the case.
More than two years ago, a flash flood killed 20 people, including seven children, at a southwest Arkansas campground. The U.S. Forest Service has acknowledged it had no emergency warning system in place at the Albert Pike Campground. The flood struck in the middle of the night during an intense rainstorm, sweeping away vehicles, RVs and camper trailers that were at the campground along the Little Missouri River.
Camping is no longer allowed at the site and the Forest Service has changed its policies on warning campers in national forests.
Robinson said the storm could be clear of Arkansas in time for people to camp Saturday night. She suggested hotels should start offering special deals or coupons.
“It may be a beautiful weekend,” Robinson said.