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Arkansas Delegation Supports Governor’s Request for Major Disaster Declaration for Craighead County

Written by Press Release

April 24, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to support Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a federal disaster declaration due to extensive damage as a result of a tornado and severe storms that struck Craighead County on March 28, 2020. 

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, infrastructure recovery is not going to follow the normal recovery process. The delays, additional costs, and lack of resources associated with recovering during this pandemic are going to take a toll on the State of Arkansas, and specifically the citizens of Craighead County,” members wrote in the letter.

The following is full text of the letter:

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the State of Arkansas, we are writing to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request to declare a major disaster, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act, as a result of severe storms and tornados which took place on March 28, 2020. 

As Governor Hutchinson noted in his request, the residents of Jonesboro experienced substantial damages. According to Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs), the City of Jonesboro had 163 homes that were destroyed or sustained major damage. In total, 672 homes sustained damage in Craighead County. Out of the homes assessed, an estimated 54% are uninsured. It is further estimated that 21% of those individuals are low income creating an additional hardship for individuals striving to repair their property during an already challenging time due to the national health emergency. Preliminary damage estimates show an impact to local jurisdictions with damages as high as $81.54 per resident in Craighead County.

As you know, maintaining critical infrastructure is also vitally important in the recovery and sustainability of a community. Unfortunately, the Jonesboro Airport sustained damage to several hangers, the terminal, office buildings and fencing. The damage total is estimated at nearly $17 million with insurance only covering $10 million, leaving a grand total of $7 million in uninsured damages. That estimate does not include the necessary clean up and temporary repairs. The airport currently only has one runway open with no functioning lights.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, infrastructure recovery is not going to follow the normal recovery process. The delays, additional costs, and lack of resources associated with recovering during this pandemic are going to take a toll on the State of Arkansas, and specifically the citizens of Craighead County. 

Unfortunately, Arkansas was in the midst of recovering from multiple disasters before COVID-19. Since January 2018, the state of Arkansans has had 12 Gubernatorial Declared disasters and 4 federally declared disasters.  

Recent Presidential Major Disaster Declarations for Arkansas

  • Arkansas COVID-19 (DR4518) April 3, 2020
  • Arkansas COVID-19 (EM 3461) March 13, 2020 
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Straight-line winds, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4460) Sept. 13, 2019
  • Arkansas Severe Storms and flooding (DR 4441) May 29, 2019
  • Record breaking flooding along the Arkansas River that included EM 3414
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4318) April 26, 2017
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4270) March 08, 2016
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4254) Dec. 23, 2015
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4226) May 8, 2015
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4174) April 27, 2014
  • Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4160) December 5, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Storms and Flooding (DR 4143) August 8, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4124) May 30, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4100) December 25, 2012
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4000) May 24, 2011
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 1975) April 14, 2011

Simply put, we believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events and COVID-19, hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises.

This, coupled with damages from the severe storms and tornados of March 28, have created an intense economic impact that has, and will continue to have, a significant effect on the region’s tax base.  

We are eager to assist in any way possible to ensure expedited evaluation of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions. We thank you for the support you have already offered, and respectfully ask for your continued attention and assistance in providing the resources necessary to ensure the safety of Arkansans.

Sincerely,

Original article source: https://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2020/4/arkansas-delegation-supports-governor-s-request-for-major-disaster-declaration-for-craighead-county | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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