Arkansas County Fails Again to Qualify for Federal Relief After Tornado

The damage assessment for Crawford County after the F-1 tornado fell short of the 125 points to qualify for relief assistance from FEMA.

by Max Bryan, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark. / December 5, 2018

(TNS) - Crawford County for the second time in 2018 will not qualify for state or federal emergency management assistance following a tornado event.

County Emergency Management director Brad Thomas said county officials in their damage assessment after an EF-1 tornado hit the county east of Rudy and an EF-2 hit Van Buren on Friday tallied four of the 125 points needed to meet the threshold for federal assistance. Thomas also said the total wasn't "anywhere close" to what they would need for state assistance.

A county usually qualifies for state or federal emergency management assistance from damage to roads or government buildings, Thomas said. He said such assistance in the case of tornadoes would largely come from points tallied from uninsured homes with damage.

Thomas in his damage assessment tallied two uninsured homes with damage, he said. County officials in April tallied 11 uninsured homes that were either destroyed or had major damage after a tornado that month hit the Mountainburg area.

Thomas said the points in the damage assessment wasn't close to the 39 points he tallied after the tornado in Mountainburg. A county needs 125 points to qualify for relief assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"With a tornado, it's going to be hard to do," Thomas said. "It would take a massive amount of damage to qualify."

Crawford County and Mountainburg city officials after the tornado in April applied for state funding though the county did not meet the assistance threshold. Gov. Asa Hutchinson later that month authorized a $100,000 grant to Mountainburg and a $22,000 grant to Crawford County out of the state emergency proclamation fund.

Governor's spokesperson J.R. Davis said officials in Crawford County or any of the cities hit in the tornado event would have to make a request if they hoped to receive assistance like they did in April.

"We will review the request for sure," Davis said.

Thomas said he and other county officials are working with the uninsured homeowners to get their needs met.

Officials in Van Buren on Monday announced a plan to remove debris and waste in the city from the EF-2 tornado. The tornado Friday night hit the Sandstone Drive area and damaged several structures.

According to the debris and waste removal plan, Van Buren citizens may take natural debris to the Yard Waste Facility on Highway 59 South or on the edge of their property for the city to pick up. Citizens are asked to remove construction debris from their properties themselves and consult with insurance carriers about existing policies covering their debris removal, according to a city news release.

Citizens may also take hazardous and electronic waste to the collection point behind the Municipal Utilities in the 2800 block of Bryan Road, the release states.


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