LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and U.S Sen. Tom Cotton shared the latest updates on the Arkansas response to Friday’s tornado outbreak after getting a briefing at the Department of Emergency Management Monday.
Sanders said she had signed two executive orders related to the storm and announced FEMA opening response centers in the state.
The first executive order allows paid leave for state employees impacted by the storm, and the second extends the state’s tax deadline.
“As we’ve said from day one, our focus is going to be on people first and paperwork second,” Sanders said. “As much as we can, we’re trying to alleviate some of the pressure points that individuals have.”
The governor also noted that FEMA had opened a one-stop response site in Little Rock for anyone needing assistance from the agency. The center is at 315 Shackelford Road, with additional centers expected to be opened in North Little Rock and Wynne “within 24 hours,” the governor said.
Both Sanders and Cotton encouraged caution ahead of another forecasted round of storms for late Tuesday. They both said that Arkansas residents must remain weather aware, with the senator advising people “heed warnings and follow directives.”
He also spoke about the spirit of Arkansas remaining unbroken despite the severe storm damage.
“The spirit of Arkansas has been shining strong for these last three or four days,” Cotton said. “You go around central Arkansas and you see pop-up tents on corners where people are offering food and beverages. In some of these distribution centers … you have almost as many people dropping items off as you have them picking it up.”
Arkansas Division of Emergency Management Director A.J. Gary said the emergency operations center would remain activated through Wednesday. He, like Sanders and Cotton, said it was essential to stay weather aware considering the forecast for Tuesday-night storms.
During questions, Sanders said she had a “very positive conversation” with Pres. Biden over the weekend about disaster response and recovery.