Langley, Arkansas -
LANGLEY, AR - The Albert Pike Campgrounds in the Ouachita National Forest have become unrecognizable. Now, according to some business owners, visitors to the Langley area have been slashed by nearly 80 percent.
The U.S. Forest Service closed overnight camping in June 2010 when 20 people were killed in a flash flood.
Four years later, some of the people that have lived in, worked or grown up in the area say it's simply a shame that the campground has turned into a forgotten area once alive with activity.
The sounds of a campfire or tent stakes driven into the ground, along with the sight of children playing, are all non-existent.
Judy Davis said, "It saddens me because this is a waste."
Davis has hiked these grounds for decades. Four years after the deadly flood, you may not have even known these were campsites, if not for the signs posted reminding you there's no overnight camping.
"Overgrown, weed infested, no people; It's heartbreaking," Launa Simmons said. "It's just heart wrenching to see it like this."
Simmons owns a nearby business and says she's watched the demise of the park the last four years.
"It looks like the ruins of something," she remarked.
Unfortunately that something is the flood.
The Forest Service has halted all work there while they face 11 different lawsuits in court filed by the families of victims killed in 2010.
The suits claim "malicious conduct" by the government which failed to evacuate campers or post signs warning of flood dangers.
Despite not allowing overnight camping now, "flash flood area" signs are now posted throughout the campground.
The Forest Service does have parts of the Albert Pike area open for day use. According to Simmons however, that's not enough to keep people coming in.
She said, "People do not want to drive from Texas and Louisiana for hours and come up here and splash around in the river for a bit and then either drive home or drive 20 miles to a hotel."
She worries that the campground will continue down this path without any return.
"I'm beginning to lose hope. I really am," she added. "I would hope somehow we could reach some sort of an understanding."