The highway department said flood water receded sufficiently to reopen the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 between Hazen and Brinkley this morning.

SPEAKING OF FLOODING: UCA history faculty member David Welky has an op-ed in the New York Times today that points out how much worse damage from flooding would have been but for the federal government’s major investment in flood control following the catastrophic floods of 1937. More work is needed, he says, including thought to creating “natural river defenses” — places where flooding is allowed rather than building levees or pump stations.


But in too many places, the pressure to develop lands along the river for residential or commercial use has led planners to forget what they learned, raising the risk of terrible losses should a levee break. Smarter engineering, not just higher levees, is needed to make sure the rivers stay under control.

Nevertheless, it’s the spirit of 1937 that we must embrace: The great flood of 2011 would be truly cataclysmic had the Roosevelt administration not invested in public works and embraced the proposition that careful, centralized planning can produce enormous social and economic rewards.

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