Neighbors gathered on a dirt road near Yoder in trucks, tractors, four wheelers — and even a minivan — Thursday to help Matt Mullins move a herd of cattle away from the Arkansas River.

The Arkansas River was at 11.81 feet at 5:30 p.m. between Haven and Yoder, according to the National Weather Service. The river is projected to crest Friday morning at 12.5 feet, which could go over the levy at Mullins’ pasture.

“We were out here at 11 o’clock this morning and you could have waded over in your boots and been fine,” Mullins said. “You could have made it halfway to the river.”

At 5 p.m. the water was little more than a foot below the top of the levy, and already covering a fence further out in the pasture.

Mullins moved his cattle to higher ground just to be safe. Water coming over the levy and flooding pastures isn’t the only worry for livestock.

“Our ground is so light out here the water seeps under, and it can become real dangerous,” Sam Miller, a neighbor of Mullins, said.

Underflow created by water seeping into the ground under the surface can make what looks like the dry side of the levy like quicksand. It makes it impossible to drive a vehicle without getting stuck, and even walking can be dangerous for humans and livestock.

Before moving his cattle, Mullins had spent the day building fence — something he may have to do after the water recedes. Floodwaters carry debris like branches and even full trees that can push through fences.

“You hate to see that,” Haven farmer Randy Harder said as he watched trees and branches flow through the backside of his pasture. “I’m just thinking about the fences.”

Harder moved his cattle from the pasture near the Arkansas earlier in the day.

“We just moved the cattle up to higher ground where they can get away from the water,” Harder said. “And where I can get to them.”

Harder is a landowner and raises livestock, but also works for the Haven drainage district. Thursday he helped check the levy and fill in gaps where water may come through.

“Part of it is monitoring the levy where cattle have walked over it and created a trail,” Harder’s son, Brandon, said. “If water starts flowing through that trail it can cut it out.”

Brandon Harder came home from Washington, D.C. to visit his father and had helped him fill in trails in the levy. He added that flooding also eats away at the land for livestock.

“When the water goes down it makes the banks soft,” he said. “So these pastures are always getting smaller.”

Randy Harder said that was just life on the river.

After moving his cattle, Mullins returned to building fence before ending his day. He said he would sleep easier with the cattle moved away from the water for the night.

“It’s been 11 years since we were out here looking at water like this,” Mullins said to his neighbor Dale Kauffman.