LANGLEY, Ark. —In the same remote valley where 20 people died in a flash flood last summer, six Louisiana Boy Scouts trapped by a rising river built a campfire and ate jambalaya and grits, confident that rescuers would eventually arrive.
The boys' two adult leaders had them set up camp near a mountain they could climb if their trail flooded — one of a series of decisions that allowed the group to emerge unharmed from the Albert Pike Recreation Area in southwest Arkansas. Rescuers also praised them for good planning, leaving a map of their planned trek and avoiding the valley floor when they realized how deep and fast the river had grown.
"They did exactly what they needed to do," Montgomery County Sheriff David White said. "As long as they stayed on high ground, we figured they were going to be in good shape."
While the weekend's conditions weren't as bad as the deadly flood that struck last year while people were sleeping, they were dangerous. The boys crossed the Little Missouri River at the start of their trip Thursday but by the time they went to leave Sunday morning, it had grown to 70 yards wide and up to 5 feet deep. Scoutmaster Jeff Robinson tested it and ordered the troop to retreat.
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"I realized the water was too strong to cross the river with the boys," Robinson said. A National Guard helicopter eventually plucked the group to safety after sunrise Tuesday.
The boys said they passed the time in between talking and sleeping in. With no cell phone service available, several said their biggest concern was what their parents were thinking.
"I was worried that my parents would freak out," said Ian Fuselier, 13.
After eating jambalaya, eggs and grits Sunday, the boys had only one meal of jambalaya Monday. But Robinson said they had enough food to last several days, a water filter and a dry camp.
"If we had to stay three, four, five days, we had the resources to do so," he said.