Sunday, June 13, 2010

Arkansas Campground Floods-What Would You Do?

I'm sure everyone has read about the horrific and deadly flash floods in the campground in Arkansas. Our hearts go out to all of those affected.

Weather is one of my biggest concerns about living in an Rv. You're in an area that you are not familiar with, you don't know the weather patterns, or when they normally have severe weather. You also may be in "vacation" mode and be enjoying your travels so much that you let your guard down.  You are much more vulnerable while traveling than when you are at home, in my opinion.

The people in Arkansas were enjoying a wonderful camping trip when seemingly without notice sudden heavy rains caused the flash flooding of the rivers. Tents, Trailers and Motorhomes all washed down the river.  One body was found 8 miles down stream. I believe 18 people, many small children are confirmed dead and dozens more are missing.

It happened in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep. The rivers rose several feet in minutes.

How could this have been prevented?

What would you have done?

Would you have gotten any warnings ahead of time to move to higher ground?

Would you have known where to go in the middle of the night?

A weather radio may have saved some lives.

I heard on the news that a "flash flood" warning was issued before the flood, but since people were sleeping they didn't know about it.

With a weather radio, it sounds a very loud alert to warn you before the event.  You would not sleep through it...I guarantee it.  Those people in Arkansas would have had some warning and it may have saved lives.

How many people take a weather radio camping, or tent camping?  Not many I would imagine, but I think they should.  We take ours with us when we travel and bring it back to the house when we come home.

This is the type of weather radio we have.  It's an Oregon Scientific.  It's portable and uses either electricity or 2 double A batteries.  That's nice because if it's storming, you frequently won't have electricity.  One night we spent an hour in a campground bath house because of a tornado warning.  We had the battery operated weather radio with us and knew when the danger had passed.

This is the exact kind we have, but there are lots of others. I believe we paid $50 for it.  It looks like the price has come down :)   I would not recommend the one they sell at Radio Shack though.  We had several of them and they worked a few months and then quit.  We actually had a tornado come pretty close one night and that was the night the weather radio decided not to work...again.  We've had this Oregon Scientific radio for several years and it always alerts us to severe weather.  We've gotten many warning for "flash flooding" but I don't worry because of our location.

They can be annoying because they will tell you there is a severe thunderstorm...usually I've figured that out by that time:)

The main issue I see for travelers is that you have to get a "code" for the area you are in.  You get it on the internet or you can call an 800 number.  You then key this location code into the radio so that it knows the area you are located.  I wish it had some type of GPS locater to know where you were at automatically.

If you don't have a weather radio, I urge everyone to get one.  You can find them at Home Depot and Lowe's during hurricane season down here.  The cost is minimal for peace of mind and to potentially save your life.  I have no doubt it would have made a difference in Arkansas.  They sell them at Sam's Club, and I think Ive even seen them at drug stores.  Of course you can always get them online.  I would never buy another one from Radio Shack though.  We had 5-6 of them and they all failed!


Karen  shared her  her link to NOAA Weather SAME Codes  She keeps a printout with her, of areas she frequently camps.  

You need to know the county you are in and then key the code into the weather radio. 


  1. Thank you Karen..I think we all need to alert each other on good and bad items.
    Our State Parks here in Tx..would of evacuated the park..immediately with any possible threat of heavy rain. I am shocked..someone with authority wasn't on top of this!!

    We always have a weather radio with us..home and travel.

    Thanks again!!Cindy and Walker

  2. Yes, such a tragedy!

    A few thoughts I posted on another blog today...

    - many campgrounds are located close to water in low lying areas, with only ONE road out, which could easily be blocked by floods, mud slides or forest fires, know your area and think ahead of escape routes

    - get a weather radio that runs off batteries, not just for boondocking, but as you may have power outages even in a campground with hookups, no power means no reports via weather radio or television

    - keep a printed off copy of the NOAA codes for all counties where you might be travelling through, to program your radio to, otherwise you may get NOAA reports for places 100 or more miles away... that don't apply to your area

    - realize gullies and arroyos and sand bars along riverbanks were MADE by rushing waters, and could very well be filled up again in no time, so don't camp in them, even if they are dry at the moment.

    - most of all, make sure your weather radio is ON overnight!

    We have 2 weather radios, one at home and one in the rig. That way we never ever forget to take it along.

    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  3. Good post. It reminded me that we need to buy another weather radio - Roger apparently left ours at a campground. Nice to see the prices have come down. After our terrible tornado several years ago, I bought each of our 3 kids weather radios. They didn't like them "because they kept going off all the time" DUH!

    I agree, traveling and weather is a concern. When we know of bad weather coming we have to figure out what county we are in. It helps to know where the buildings are in the RV park in case you have to make a mad dash to one.

    When we were at the Tiffin factory at Red Bay, the campground host came around telling everyone to put in their awnings and slides. They also left the customer lounge unlocked that night in case we needed to go there.

  4. Good post, but weather radio might not have helped since the area is so isolated there is no cell signal or other communication. Don't know how that affects weather radio signals.


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