In the early nineteenth century, Southerners fought federally sponsored “internal improvements” like canals because they didn’t need them; they had a network of navigable rivers to transport crops. Those same rivers are both life blood and death for some Southern areas today. This week Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee, experienced deadly flooding. (I have family in the area and am grateful to have no fatalities to report but lots of loss of property.) One of the causes of flooding, we now know, as in Katrina, is poor engineering by the Army Corps of Engineers: flooding caused by failed flood control. Other people simply face flood waters this week because of the volume of rain and their proximity to rivers. As people told story after story of rising water and devastation, a lifetime of memories washed away even when lives weren’t lost, I could not help but think of people I know in Arkansas who live adjacent to rivers yet who do not experience floods with the same agony. These people love living along the river and thus have found ways to work with it instead of letting it deluge their lives.
On Big Piney Creek near Highway 7 north of Dover, Arkansas, many families live in peace with the river. They built their homes to be flooded. The first level is concrete block with a bare concrete floor. Should a flood come through, they roll up their carpets, move fragile furniture to the second floor, and wait it out on high ground. When the water recedes, they return, wash the mud out of the first floor, and move back in. Your home may not win House Beautiful awards this way, but you will not fear a flood–and you get to live on a beautiful river.
Addendum: Recently a flash flood swept the Little Missouri River, but one cabin home, anchored securely on stilts well above the flood plain, withstood not only the raging river when it rose 8 feet in ten minutes on June 11, 2010, but also an RV, a pick-up, and a cabin that had not been tethered when all three of them slammed into the well-anchored cabin in the early hours of the morning.
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. Short excerpts with full URL are welcome. Please contact me for permission to use photographs.