LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The twisters which ripped through parts of Arkansas left unimaginable scenes behind, and for each damaged neighborhood there are dozens of families now homeless and looking for a place to stay.
The American Red Cross is working with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) to provide temporary lodging for tornado victims who have been displaced from their homes.
ADEM and Red Cross have partnered with several local hotels in the affected counties, Pulaski, Lonoke, and Cross, or nearby counties that could accommodate. During this sheltering mission, hotel availability may change.
The Red Cross may relocate residents to another facility if necessary. It is the next phase of recovery for those needing to use congregant shelters since March 31 according to Jo Ann Woody, American Red Cross Arkansas Assistant Director of External Relations.
“Right now our primary focus is making sure those who were affected by the tornadoes have a safe place to go,” Woody said.
The housing program will provide safe and comfortable lodging while helping residents displaced by tornado damage work toward permanent housing solutions.
You must have a home address deemed unlivable due to tornado damage in Pulaski, Lonoke, or Cross counties to qualify. To further help disaster survivors, Red Cross and FEMA case managers will address the needs of each eligible citizen and support their recovery progress.
Displaced survivors can call 1-800-RED-CROSS for assistance. If you wish to get assistance in person, you can arrive at any of the four Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) which opened this week operated by the Red Cross in cities across the damaged areas.
Calvary Baptist Church – Little Rock
Bill Harmon Rec Center – Sherwood
Jacksonville Community Center – Jacksonville
Assembly of God Church – Wynne.
They are open 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on weekdays, but Jacksonville’s location will close at 5:30 P.M. The only location scheduled open this Saturday is in Wynne 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“It helps more because you can actually talk to people and they understand what you’re actually going through,” Robert Bassett said.
Bassett traveled to the DRC in Little Rock Thursday after his family home on Shackleford Road was taken out by a tornado. He says it’s been stressful for his family not knowing what the next day will bring.
“I lived out of one hotel, then I went to another hotel, then I went to another hotel,” Bassett explained. “This last place we were in the Red Cross took over for us.”
Eligible individuals and families in the voucher program will be placed into hotel or motel rooms and provided meals as work is done to find people like Bassett a permanent solution.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the partnership Thursday saying, “One of the biggest challenges after a storm like this is lodging and housing.”
There are hundreds of volunteers in Arkansas with the American Red Cross. They come from across the country, and they are going door to door or manning DRC’s.
“We’re meeting with organizations every day to figure out who’s got what resources that will help fill the needs now, next month, or two months or in six months because there are some families that won’t be in that new permanent, that normal for a year maybe. It’s unfathomable how long it can take sometimes,” Woody said.
Bassett is already getting help he needs with his wife’s medication and more, so his advice is to call 1-800-RED-CROSS or go to a DRC as he did.
“Come talk to Red Cross. They’ll help you. They’ll help you 100%,” Bassett concluded.