Posted by: Nancy M. Casper, Federal Coordinating Officer
Rogers, AR, June 4, 2011 --A FEMA Community Relations specialist speaks with a resident during an community event in Rogers, AR. FEMA Community Relations specialists were at the fair to provide residents about FEMA's disaster relief programs and to encourage residents affected by recent flooding or tornadoes to register for assistance.
Over a month after FEMA’s arrival in Arkansas following the devastating spring storms and tornadoes, state and federal agencies have rushed over $22 million in assistance to families and communities. While much assistance has come quickly, we still have so much more to do as the emergency management team - a team includes Arkansas residents – continues to meet the needs of survivors and the affected communities.
Our operation depends on the more than 300 state and federal workers who are helping survivors get back on their feet. These professionals bring plenty of experience, skills and talents to work for Arkansas disaster survivors. Specialists have visited with more than 2,067 survivors in our 20 disaster recovery centers and disaster assistance centers across the state. Housing inspectors have looked at more than 7,032 damaged homes in the 30 counties eligible for individual assistance. And many folks, such as our call center professionals, continue to work behind the scenes to support our mission.
Each state and federal worker has a role to play in the disaster assistance process, and we encourage survivors to take advantage of this assistance by registering for assistance. Survivors can register in several ways, by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585, visiting http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov/, or via web-enabled phone http://m.fema.gov/. So far, more than 8,900 Arkansans have registered for assistance in one of these ways.
Those with questions about registration, housing inspections, assistance and the recovery process can visit a disaster recovery center or its streamlined cousin, the more mobile disaster assistance center. Of course, many have had an opportunity to visit with one of more than two dozen specialists who have visited all 30 counties designated for individual assistance. They have walked hundreds of miles through damaged neighborhoods handing out fliers and answering survivors’ questions.
Conway, AR, June 3, 2011 --A FEMA Mitigation specialist talks to a residents about what needs to be done to protect his home against flooding or potential high winds and tornadoes. FEMA specialist are setting up information booths in local hardware stores throughout Arkansas to provide residents with information that may help them protect their property if the area is affected by damaging winds and/or flood waters.
Those survivors who have completed the registration process are among the ones who have qualified for nearly $14.6 million in housing assistance, more than $2.6 million in other needs assistance and over $5.4 million in loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Even as millions in assistance have gone to individuals, families and businesses, our public assistance effort has swung into gear. Public assistance grants are obligated to the state to help make damaged communities whole again. These dollars go to local governments, state agencies, and certain nonprofits to help clean up communities overwhelmed by disaster-related debris, repair roads and bridges, put utilities and water systems back in order, repair hospitals and emergency services, rebuild schools and universities, and put playground equipment back in public parks.
Fifty-two counties across the state have been designated for public assistance. After the devastating flooding in the eastern part of the state, FEMA expedited $360,000 to the state to pay members of the National Guard who placed sandbags in communities to ward off approaching flood waters. Another $278,000 has gone to Garland County for expedited debris removal. The state and communities are now completing their applications for reimbursement of other expenses and repairs incurred as a result of the April and May storms and flooding.
We have had a busy month as our partnerships with local and state governments have shifted into high gear. We feel very proud of what we and our Arkansas partners have accomplished so far – and we will continue to work just as hard in meeting the needs of those individuals and communities affected by the storms.
For the latest updates on the Arkansas recovery efforts, visit the disaster page.