LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sen. John Boozman and other officials provided the latest updates Wednesday on the response to the March 31 tornadoes.
The response came shortly after another round of severe weather brought high winds, rain and hail across the state, potentially complicating recovery efforts. Sanders said her office has been in contact with local officials to determine the impact of the Wednesday storms.
“We’ve been in touch with local officials in all of the counties that have been impacted in the last 24 hours,” Sanders said. “Thankful that we have had minimal damage. So far no injuries have been reported.”
Officials spoke on current activity and thanked people for all the volunteer hours and donations as recovery efforts continued.
“[We] continue to be overwhelmed and grateful for the number of Arkansans that are stepping up and helping their neighbors,” Sanders said.
The governor continued to thank City Center, Little Rock’s Immanuel Baptist Church ministry, for hosting the day’s news conference.
Pastor Steven Smith spoke about City Center’s efforts. He thanked the church volunteers, adding that about 100 people not affiliated with the church have been volunteering alongside church volunteers.
“It’s been a sweet time to see Arkansans come together and do what they do,” he said.
Later, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde thanked Smith and “all the churches” for their support and volunteers in storm response.
“Their amount of help in clean up, in packing up, in getting food, in making sure that the pantries in the area are well stocked … is just overwhelming,” Hyde said.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced that the city was allowing debris drop off at Reservoir Park. He asked that nobody bring storm debris to the city’s landfill.
FEMA administrator Tony Robinson confirmed that the agency was working with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management in responding to state needs and that a disaster area had been declared for Cross, Lonoke and Pulaski counties.
FEMA now has disaster recovery offices opened in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Wynne, Robinson noted. He said that the offices were staffed with people to help those impacted by the storm to apply for aid for uninsured items, such as temporary housing or lost items.
FEMA office locations:
- Little Rock: 315 N Shakelford
- North Little Rock: 1300 Pike Avenue
- Wynne: 702 Highway 64 (old Sears building)
Robinson said the process for someone needing assistance is first to contact their insurance provider.
Later during questions, Robinson added that anyone bringing a claim to FEMA should have their paperwork as possible, including driver’s license and insurance papers. He added that FEMA should also know the current phone number and current address for anyone making a claim.
FEMA was also working with the Small Business Administration in providing aid, he said.
Sanders added that the state had people at each disaster center to help Arkansas residents get replacements for any lost or missing state-issued paperwork while making a claim. She added that FEMA had been working very quickly, with reports that some had received claim checks already.
Boozman thanked television meteorologists for “getting the word out” as the storm moved across the state. He also thanked first responders and the cooperation between non-profits, city and state agencies.
“So we want to make sure the federal response is what it should be,” the senator said, adding a compliment to Robinson for the FEMA response.
Arkansas has a state-maintained disaster recovery website listing resources and volunteer opportunities. FEMA also maintains a website for online claims and information.