Flood-recovery work begins

FEMA, state agencies to seek out residents in need of aid

By Stephen Simpson
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and various state agencies will be on the ground in the coming days as plans take shape for local and federal aid for residents and communities affected by recent flooding along the Arkansas River, officials said Monday.

Heavy rainfall in Kansas and Oklahoma led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from reservoirs in both states that eventually made its way down the Arkansas River, leading to severe flooding throughout the Arkansas River Valley. Hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded as the water worked its way from western Arkansas through central Arkansas and into the southeast part of the state.

President Donald Trump on Saturday approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson's request for more federal aid to meet the housing and business needs across Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell counties.

Hutchinson estimated in a letter sent Friday to Trump that Arkansas would need more than $8 million in cleanup funds and more than $100 million for infrastructure repairs. That estimate could change as water levels continue to drop and reveal the extent of the damage, Hutchinson said.

A FEMA spokesman said the agency already had staff members in position in Arkansas before Saturday's emergency declaration.

"We have Disaster Survivor Assistance teams out in each of the counties designated for FEMA's Individual Assistance Program," said Robin Smith, spokesman for FEMA Region 6. "They will be going door to door in affected areas to assist survivors get connected with potential assistance, to answer questions about the types of help that is available, help survivors apply for state and federal assistance, as well as referrals to community partners."

The workers will be in teams of two or more. FEMA personnel will have photo badges and will wear FEMA vests or shirts, officials said.

"Additional staff for the variety of other FEMA programs are being deployed here currently and should be on the ground later this week," Smith said. READ MORE.

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