FORT SMITH (KFSM) — The Garrison Avenue Bridge, which has been closed to vehicle traffic but open to pedestrians, will close temporarily today starting at 12 p.m. in anticipation of a visit by the governor.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson is scheduled to give a news conference at 2 p.m. today (May 30) at the bridge after a flyover of the area by helicopter to view the flood damage. To prepare, officials announced the bridge will be closed to pedestrians at 1 p.m. The bridge should reopen once the governor’s visit there is concluded.
Police began closing the bridge at noon, however.
Outside of that, city officials are allowing people who want to observe the flood waters to use the bridge while it remains closed to vehicle traffic, and they assured people that the bridge is safe. Officials reiterated that people should not cross barriers to view floodwaters.
Carl Geffken, the city administrator for Fort Smith, said police are patrolling areas that are barricaded.
“The roads are closed for a reason. It’s for the safety of the homes that are in the area, and also the people that own them, and it’s for your safety,” said Geffken. “Please do not venture down into those areas.”
Geffken said the water system is fine, the water is drinkable and there are no boil orders for Fort Smith or any of the smaller cities that are customers of the city’s system. He said the wastewater system is also doing well.
Rob Ratley, community affairs manager for Oklahoma Gas & Electric in Arkansas, said there are currently 390 outages in Fort Smith and 13 more in outlying areas.
“Anyone capable of receiving power is currently on,” he said. Those who aren’t can’t receive power because high water is likely invading the system. He said most of the outages in Fort Smith were in the Canterbury and Village Harbor areas.
Officials also announced a muck training taking place this Sunday at 3 p.m. at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith. The training will be for those affected by the flood and will instruct them on the best methods to clean their home after the waters recede, from drying out to alleviating mold.