LINKS TO THE SEARCH:
THANK YOU LETTERS!
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2010 8:12 AM
Subject: Search and Rescue Ends
As the focus at the Albert Pike Recreational Area shifts to damage assessments, state agencies on Wednesday announced the official end to the search and rescue following the flash floods that left 20 people dead.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management is now working with the U.S. Forest Service and local authorities on finalizing damage assessments.
"It was constantly reassuring to see state, federal and local agencies coordinate so well in the face of such a shocking disaster," Gov. Mike Beebe said. "While the Forest Service will have sole jurisdiction from here forward, Arkansas stands ready to help if any additional assistance is requested."
Beebe has been in touch with Forest Service officials about potential federal assistance for victims' families, and for the law-enforcement agencies, state agencies and other support staff who assisted with the search and response.
State police had already scaled back their search efforts on Tuesday, and a spokesman said the state police mobile command center would leave Thursday morning.
“At this time, there has been no other individual noted who may be unaccounted for,” State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Wednesday.
Officials with the Ouachita National Forest offered thanks Wednesday to emergency workers and volunteers who responded to the flash flood that killed 20 people at the Albert Pike Campground last week.
“I need to acknowledge and thank all the partnering agencies, communities and local organizations that took part in this effort,” Ouachita National Forest Supervisor Norman Wagoner said in a news release. “I have heard from many family members how appreciative they were of the work done in conjunction with this tragic event ... We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s important that we say thanks to all who helped in this time of need.”
A spokesman for the agency said she did not know when the campground would reopen.
“It will likely take a week or so for the initial assessments just to give us a better idea of what kind of damages were caused by the floods,” said Tracy Farley, of the service’s Ouachita National Forest division.
The body of the 20th and believed-to-be final victim was recovered Monday and Arkansas State Police were set to decide Wednesday night the timetable for leaving the area, Sadler said.
If you need to report someone missing after the flood, call the Department of Emergency Management at 888- 683-2336.
The deaths occurred when heavy rains swelled the Little Missouri River by 20 feet early Friday morning, turning it into a raging current that peeled asphalt from the ground, washed away campers and trucks and took sleeping campers by surprise.
More than 100 people helped search the remote, debris-ridden woods amid heat indexes that surged into the triple digits.
“The outpouring of support from everyone was enormous," said Mike Quesinberry, Incident Commander for the Southern Area Incident Management Blue Team, in the release. "People were showing up to volunteer each day. I am still hearing stories of the selfless spirit that was predominant throughout this entire incident. It’s a testament to the character of the people in this area.”
After assessment and cleanup in the affected area, forest employees will "begin the long process associated with natural resource recovery along the Little Missouri Wild and Scenic River corridor," according to the release. The campground remains closed and no timetable for its reopening has been announced.
The search for 21 year-old Matthew Baldwin began early on the morning of March 8, nearly a week after Baldwin had been reported missing by concerned family and friends. Led by the Canine Search and Rescue Team, authorities fanned out in a French Creek State Park near Swarthmore in West Reading, Pennsylvania. At approximately 12:50 p.m., Baldwin was found camping in the park—safe, sound and well provisioned. Baldwin had spent the previous days hiking and camping. He was surprised anyone was looking for him and immediately contacted his family members to assure them he was okay.
The Canine Search and Rescue Team had been recruited to help look for Baldwin by his family and the NCCPC (National Certification of Professional Canines). According to Swarthmore Dean Martin Warner, “the Canine Response Team generously volunteered their services and were instrumental [in finding Baldwin]. It was a real team effort.”
Team members arrived at Swarthmore late Saturday night, March 7, and were briefed by campus police as well as family members of the missing student. Based on information gathered regarding possible sightings in the Elverson, PA area and the student’s love of the outdoors, the canine team targeted the area’s game lands and woods.
Team members who traveled to the search site included:
Kathy Williams, Associate Professor in the JCHS Nursing Program; Melanie Morris, Carilion Clinic Patient Transportation Services and JCHS Alumna; Dr. Carol Gilbert, Carilion Clinic Director of Trauma in Medical-Surgical Education; Ellen Harvey, Carilion Clinic Trauma Nurse Specialist.
For more information on the successful search, visit the website for the Swarthmore College newspaper, The Daily Gazette, at: http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2009/3/8/baldwin-found/.
At right are photos of the team at the search site.