Harrison, AR Flood, May 1961

Floods, Funnels Hit Arkansas, Killing 7

HARRISON, Ark., (AP)---Tornadoes and flash floods killed at least seven persons and wreaked property damage of about $10,000,000 in Arkansas Saturday night and Sunday.

Crooked Creek swollen by thunderstorms overflowed and sent a wall of water 14 feet high down the streets of Harrison in northwest Arkansas.

Two men were killed in the flood as they tried to run from their homes. An elderly couple was missing.

Tornadoes slashed six scattered communities, killing four people.

The seventh person was killed trying to dislodge debris from a bridge over a flooding creek at Springdale.

Damage at Harrison was estimated by the mayor at $5,000,000 to $10,000,000. The downtown section and part of a southern residential area were covered with 14 feet of water for four hours before it began receding.

Gov. Orval E. Faubus proclaimed martial law in the town of 6,500 and sent two companies of National Guard troops.

The town's water supply was polluted and trucks were hauling drinking water from nearby towns. The Benton County Medical Society will give free typhoid inoculations early Monday.

Harrison police said Sherman Smith, 53, and Troy Paul, 60, drowned when they tried to outrun the water to higher ground. Mr. and Mrs. C. J. McCutcheon, whose home was destroyed were missing.

Many people were evacuated from their homes before the flood. When firemen notified the town of the onrushing water, a number of businessmen went to their stores, only to be trapped by the rising waters. Some were rescued by boat.

Tornadoes hit Midway, Whiteville, Clarkridge, Pindall, Summit and Oil Trough. Three were killed at Summit, near Yellville, and one died at Midway. Damage from the twisters may run as high at $1,000,000.

J. W. Hoyle, 67, and his wife, 66, were killed when a tornado collapsed their home at Summit. Also killed at Summit was Mrs. Nellie Wood, 60. About 40 homes were destroyed in the Yellville-Summit-Pindall area.

The twister which struck Midway killed Mrs. Gherline Frost, 26, of Manila and injured her 30 year old husband, Army Sgt. Joe Frost, Jr., and their two young sons, Donnie Joe, 7, and Michael, 5.

Harold Evans, 19, of Springdale, drowned when he fell into flooded Sugar Creek at Bella Vista Lake near Springdale. Evans was trying to dislodge debris jammed against the bridge.

About 14 houses were washed away at Harrison. Cars parked along streets in the business section were shoved for blocks, and one wound up propped against a building.

Debris was lodged in trees in the downtown section, some on branches 12 feet high.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 8 May 1961