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Toll rises to 19 in Arkansas flood

One person was still missing, and hopes faded for finding any more survivors.

LANGLEY, Ark. - Officials on Sunday said the toll from a predawn flash flood Friday at a campground rose to 19 with the discovery of a body in a debris pile, and they said one person remained missing.

Rescue leaders helped some families find their relatives' campsites and gather heartbreaking mementos, including baby pictures and a child's blanket.

"It's just overwhelming for them. It looks like a war zone here," said Pastor Graig Cowart, who accompanied the group.

State Police Capt. Mike Fletcher said earlier police reports that three people were missing were incorrect.

Many people who were first feared missing are now not believed to have been camping at the Albert Pike Recreation Area, the part of Ouachita National Forest hit hardest by the flooding, state police spokesman Bill Sadler said. Those people are believed to be camping elsewhere in the state, out of cell-phone range, he said.

"Typically when people go on vacation or camping trips, they want to turn those cell phones off," Sadler said.

Floodwaters rose as swiftly as eight feet per hour, pouring through the remote valley with such force that they peeled asphalt from roads and bark from trees. Cabins along the riverbanks were severely damaged, and mobile homes lay on their sides.

Forecasters had warned of the approaching danger in the area during the night, but campers could easily have missed those advisories because the area is isolated.

Most campers were asleep when the Little Missouri River flooded, and by the time they awoke, it was likely too late for many. At 2 a.m., the campground was under four feet of water, and by 5 a.m., it was under 23.4 feet.

Crews have searched 50 miles of rivers and tributaries at least twice since Friday, and three or four times in some places, the Forest Service's Mike Quesinberry said Sunday.

Crews used bulldozers and chain saws on Sunday to look through the tangled piles of debris lining the banks of the Little Missouri.

The last time someone was found alive was late Friday morning, and hopes of finding any other survivors wilted in the oppressive heat and humidity. The temperature Sunday reached 90 degrees.

The storm surge leveled trees, leaving debris piles that reached up to 30 feet high and snagged clothing and camping gear.

Bud Dunson, assistant emergency coordinator for Howard County, who organized Sunday's search efforts, warned volunteers to use caution when cutting and picking through the listing heaps.

"They can shift and fall on you," he said.

Eight of the 16 victims publicly identified were from Louisiana, seven were from Texas, and one was from Arkansas.

Among those killed were three people from Texarkana, Texas - 7-year-olds Kylee Sullivan and Gayble Moss, grade-school classmates starting their summer break, and Kylee's grandmother Julie Freeman, 53.

The only Arkansas victim identified was Leslie Jez, a 23-year-old mother and wife from Foreman whose husband, Adam, was listed among the survivors.

"So ready to go camping this weekend," she had written on her Facebook page Monday. "Kaden is going to love it!!"

Authorities haven't said whether the child survived.