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Murky waters 

WASHED OUT: Stewart Kirby stands in his sotted house.
  • WASHED OUT: Stewart Kirby stands in his sotted house.

A walk down Tori Lane in the Windwood Meadows subdivision in Beebe tells the tale. Dumpsters full of ruined sheetrock and soggy carpet stand in the street. A Ford pickup sits in a driveway over a puddle of watery motor oil. A ghostly gray water stain — three feet high in some places — is etched across garage doors, the reminder of the flood that slowly pushed into the simple, ranch-style houses just before Halloween and again, deeper, on Christmas Eve.

 

Stewart Kirby's house at 1031 Tori Lane got 15 inches of water in October, and three feet in December. Something of a gadfly around town — he got tongues wagging a few years back by starting a blog where parents could post criticism of Beebe schools — Kirby has been locked in a battle of words with the city since the October flood, firing off FOI requests for paperwork pertaining to Windwood Meadows and circulating a petition asking that the city work to secure federal funds to buy the houses and demolish the part of the neighborhood that lies deepest in the flood zone. Things have gone far enough that Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson issued a letter in The Beebe News referring to Kirby as “one individual who has shown an unwillingness to work toward a positive solution.” Meanwhile, many of the residents of Windwood Meadows are living elsewhere. Some face the possibility that they may have to demolish their houses even though their insurance won't pay off the remaining balance of their mortgage.

 

Kirby bought his house in 2003 with the understanding that it was not in a flood plain. It became apparent almost immediately that there was a problem. “The first time it rained real hard, the water started backing up in my street,” Kirby said. Alarmed, he went out and bought flood insurance through the federal National Flood Insurance Program. Later, he paid for a flood determination firm to reclassify the flood threat to his house. The report — based on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development flood maps that became effective in 1977 — found that his house was in Flood Zone A, which has a high probability of being flooded.

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