Much needed disaster relief continues to pour into Arkansas

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 4:33 PM CST
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NORTHEAST ARKANSAS (WMC) - Over the holiday weekend, President Biden announced that he approved federal disaster relief for Arkansas storm victims, a much-needed ray of hope as several Eastern Arkansas counties continue to rebuild.

The preliminary findings from FEMAs ground survey came later than Governor Asa Hutchinson had originally hoped, but as the governor noted on social media, it came just in time for the holidays.

Regardless of the timing, Arkansas storm victims, hundreds of whom were displaced by a series of tornadoes that swept through earlier this month, now have access to millions in federal dollars.

“There’s two kinds of assistance that would come with the federal disaster declaration,” Hutchinson began to lay out in his mid-December visit to Trumann. “One would be public assistance, so if you lose a fire department or a building or public facility, there’s coverage for that.”

There’s also individual assistance, up to $35,000 in relief money for families, depending on the damage of the home, according to Hutchinson.

Impacted families can apply for federal relief by scrolling down to the Currently Declared Disasters, selecting Arkansas, and then select among the counties that were impacted.

“If there’s lodging expense, hotel expense, those types of items can be covered as well,” Hutchinson further clarified.

For the five counties impacted, Woodruff, Jackson, Mississippi, Craighead, and Poinsett, those are the only methods of relief.

“Other organizations, such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Ministries, there were several organizations that we’re able to help provide additional support for those families,” said Jennifer Sokolowski, executive director of Red Cross NE Arkansas.

Sokolowski recently wrapped up several pop-up resource centers across the impacted region, putting families and business owners in the right direction to getting the help they need.

Small businesses are able to apply for disaster loans with SBA.

The announcement of federal relief being made available has her hopeful the path to rebuilding will be made easier.

“To be able to rebuild and to move their lives forward,” Sokolowski said.

The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management recently opened its disaster relief program for people to donate, where funds will go to the immediate needs of storm victims.

The number to call and donate to the Salvation Army is 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or you can visit their emergency disaster services website and select December 2021 Tornado Outbreak (Arkansas, Kentucky & Tennessee) under the “What would you like your donation to support?” section.

For the Red Cross, folks can donate by calling 1-800-733-2767, or go to their donation website and select Disaster Relief under the “I Want to Support” section.

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