By Brittany Pieper – email
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) –Four months after flash floods took the lives of 20 people at Camp Albert Pike in Arkansas, the camp is back open for day use only. However, at least 2 of the survivors feel it's still not safe.
The Smith and Basinger families spent weekends at Camp Albert Pike for years. June 11th, 2010 would be their last. At about 3 a.m. they woke up to a storm. Water reached their ankles, but in a matter of minutes it overwhelmed them.
"there was no high ground, and the water rose so fast that there was nothing that you could do," said Kerri Basinger.
The Basinger and Smith families got in their vehicle to try and drive away, but the water was too high so they climbed on top of the truck. Then, they found themselves struggling to survive.
"We were all swept in the current and I happened to run into a tree," said Candace Smith.
Basinger and Smith held onto a tree, a house, and a telephone pole waiting for daylight so rescuers could find them. Their stepsons also survived.
Their husbands, Anthony Smith and Shane Basinger died. Their children, 5-year-old Joey Smith, 2-year-old Katelynn Smith, 8-year-old Jadyn Basinger and 6-year-old Kinsley Basinger also died in the flood waters.
"Kerri and I have vowed, and made it our goal in life to make sure what happened to our families doesn't happen to anyone else. We don't believe that the camp is safe," said Smith.
Smith and Basinger say hours passed between the time the flood warnings were issued and when the danger started, but no one warned them to leave the camp site. The U.S. Forestry Service says they put up signs warning the camp is a flash flood area, but Smith and Basinger don't think it's enough. The 2 women started a petition to close the camp until warning systems are put in place.
"A siren system needs to be put up when the water reaches a certain level, sirens go off to warn," said Basinger.
They hope this would allow other families to make the same great memories at the camp they did without the fear of flash floods.
To see the survivor's online petition click here.