The Legend of Lollie Levee
The Legend of Lollie Levee
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Once upon a time, there was a wide and fertile land, between the mountains and a great river. Through this land were many regions, and through these regions flowed another river. This was the Arkansas River. It was not the mightiest in the land, and yet it carved its way to the great river with grace and beauty.
Now like all rivers, the Arkansas is not to be trusted, for when rain comes it may escape its banks bringing flood waters and destruction upon the surrounding lands. Once, in the year 1927, this happened, and so, a few short years later, the people of the land built the Lollie Levee to protect the community of Lolliee Bottoms. Some distance away, the city of Conway also enjoyed the protections of the Levee.
For nearly a century, the Lollie Levee held back the floods, until it faced its greatest challenge.
One fateful spring, the rains began to fall. For weeks on end, the regions above the Lollie Levee were inundated with storm after storm, until the river began to swell. No one in living memory had ever seen the river so high for most of its length, and those in its path fled.
Floods spread across the land, destroying farms, homes and lives.
When the flood waters reached the Lollie Levee it held strong as the water raged against it. But flood waters can linger and for many weeks the waters endured.
Some ways north of Lollie Bottoms there was another levee at Holla Bend, one that could not withstand the waters. That levee failed and the lands behind were ravaged.
But Lollie Levee held strong for many days. The City of Conway and the Corp of Engineers watched it daily to ensure that it would hold.
The levee at Lollie is doing what it was designed to do.— City of Conway, Arkansas (@CityofConway) May 28, 2019
“We are encouraged by news that the projected crest has not increased, the timeframe has not been extended, and the forecasted rainfall for Conway has decreased,” said Mayor Castleberry.#arwx @NWSLittleRock pic.twitter.com/o2M1jfNuqB
At long last the waters began to fall. But the currents were still strong and they had taken their toll on the Lollie Levee. It began to erode under the force of the deluge. It was slow at first, but then began to pick up speed as the water soaked earth began to crumble. The men of Conway and the land’s military worked to reinforce the century old hill of earth, but one can only do so much to hold back a river.
The Levee was under constant surveillance and none knew if it would hold. Late one night, a dire warning was sent out. The community of Lollie Bottoms must flee, for the Levee would surely fail.
🚨Please be advised that the conditions at the Lollie Levee have deteriorated in the last hour. The Conway Fire Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommend the evacuation of all residents in the Lollie Bottoms area.#arwx #ARFlood19 @NWSLittleRock— City of Conway, Arkansas (@CityofConway) June 7, 2019
When the sun rose, the situation was grim. The levee was eroding rapidly and there was little the men of that region could do to stop it.
Over the next few days they watched and prayed. The river was falling, but so was the levee.
To further protect the City of Conway, they built a dam over the creek leading into the area. They wanted to be certain that the water would not make its way back up to the town in case the worst happened.
But the miraculous was happening. Lollie Levee continued to hold as the river fell. The people of the region followed with held breath, praying that she would hold out.
Men began to hope.
This might go down as one of the best quotes from this terrible flood event.— NWS Little Rock (@NWSLittleRock) June 9, 2019
"She's not petty right now, but she's holding on like a hair on a biscuit." -Bobby Kelly(Conway spokesman)
Let's just hope the levee holds before we get any gravy on that biscuit! #arwx #ARFlood19 https://t.co/ATCqUY3osj
“She’s not pretty right now, but she’s holding on like a hair on a biscuit,”
No words more true have ever been spoken…
Lollie Levee held until the end, enduring the great flood and receiving great injury. The men of the land were grateful for what it had done, for the lives and property it had protected.
They rewarded the Levee for a job well done.
The city of Conway is no longer at risk of flooding. The Lollie Levee continues to hold and the Arkansas River continues to recede.— City of Conway, Arkansas (@CityofConway) June 10, 2019
As a token of our appreciation, we presented the Lollie Levee with a key to the city.#arwx #arflood19 #ArkanStrong @NWSLittleRock pic.twitter.com/jkyGHZTP6L
A miracle had happened and the land had not flooded.
“A lot of good people did a lot of great work out there, but what we saw ... what I saw with my own two eyes and what I felt out there, I can only describe as a miracle,” city spokesman Bobby M. Kelly III told the Log Cabin. #arwx #arflood19 #ArkanStrong https://t.co/PUEN0dPFn4— City of Conway, Arkansas (@CityofConway) June 11, 2019
And so the Legend of Lollie Levee can now continue. She will be rebuilt by the people of the town, so that when the next flood comes she can continue to do her job.
Hold up your head Lollie Levee. We’re proud of you.
I’ll have to apologize for my Friday blog not coming till the following Tuesday. That day (and weekend) were a little bit nuttier than normal. By mid-weekend I had it in my mind to write up this Legend, but I needed to wait till the end to see how it turned out. Most of the weekend I was expecting it to end in tragedy. I couldn’t have dreamed that it would have held up and be awarded a key to the city. Congratulations Lollie Levee! Thanks for holding through the week!
Those of you that have stumbled upon my blog to read about a Levee may wonder what exactly I do here. Every other Friday I publish a chapter of a free family-friendly sci-fi serial, After Moses. Think a smidge of Star Trek with a lot more of a Western mixed in. The story teller in me couldn’t help give a shout out to a local event. Thanks for reading!
Check back this Friday for After Moses’ newest chapter, or hit the chapter list below to get started.