Faulkner County declared disaster area; congressional delegation approves | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Faulkner County declared disaster area; congressional delegation approves

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 11:48 AM

click to enlarge NOW HE LIKES DISASTER AID: Tom Cotton gets a subtle poke from opponent as reminder of his lonely opposition to appropriating money for disaster relief.
  • NOW HE LIKES DISASTER AID: Tom Cotton gets a subtle poke from opponent as reminder of his lonely opposition to appropriating money for disaster relief.
Faulkner County has been declared a major disaster area, an expected and necessary step in speeding federal aid to the restoration of damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure. Sen. Mark Pryor commented, "Once again, we're reminded of the importance of supporting disaster relief funding," which readers are free to read as a subtle dig at Republican opponent Tom Cotton.

A news release on the announcement was joined by all members of the Arkansas delegation, including Cotton, who famously voted in a small House minority against the appropriation bill that provides the money for FEMA to use in disasters. He objected to other items in the bill, a bipartisan compromise, but his vote infuriated representatives of areas hit by Hurricane Sandy. His vote has been a target of political criticism ever since. His supporters now say the subject should be off-limits in respect for Arkansas tornado victims, a popular tactic when unpleasant things happen that have relevance to congressional votes. "Now is not the time, etc." It is precisely the time.

Boozman also voted against one version of the Hurricane Sandy relief bill though he's supported aid for Arkansas purposes, as all congressmen do.

The news release:

U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-1), Tim Griffin (AR-2), Steve Womack (AR-3), and Tom Cotton (AR-4) today announced that FEMA has designated Faulkner County a major disaster area to help Arkansans recover from losses caused by Sunday night’s storms. Earlier today, the Arkansas delegation sent a letter to FEMA and the President in support of Governor Beebe’s request. [President Obama signed the declaration today.]

“Despite losing their homes, belongings, or even their loved ones, Arkansans impacted by these terrible storms aren’t giving up. That’s because Arkansans understand the importance of coming together and pitching in to get our state back on its feet,” Pryor said. “I appreciate Administrator Fugate for coming to our state and approving these funds so Arkansans can begin the rebuilding process. Once again, we’re reminded of the importance of supporting disaster relief funding.”

“Mayflower and Vilonia residents deserve to have the resources they need to recover from this tragedy. I appreciate the quick response from FEMA. My office and I will continue to work with the agency, the governor’s office and the delegation to make sure Arkansans get the assistance they need to rebuild,” Boozman said.

“As the families in Faulkner County continue to recuperate from the tornado that struck their communities on Sunday night I am thankful that federal assistance can begin to find its way to those whose needs are greatest in the wake of this tragedy. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Arkansas delegation as we work to address further needs of Arkansans in the days and weeks ahead,” Crawford said.

“Vilonia, Mayflower and other parts of Faulkner County need critical assistance after the damage and devastation caused by the storm. I am grateful for the decision to designate Faulkner County a major disaster area, which will provide needed resources to Arkansans in Vilonia and Mayflower. As we work to rebuild our communities, we continue to pray for the families affected, especially those who lost loved ones,” said Griffin.

“The devastation from Sunday’s storms is unimaginable, and now, those impacted must begin to put their lives back together and rebuild their communities. As they do so, I’m grateful these Arkansans will be able to receive the assistance they desperately need,” said Womack.

“I applaud FEMA’s swift action in this matter. The Arkansas delegation is united in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation, doing everything in our power to help the people of Central Arkansas recover from these storms. We will do all we can to cut through the red tape and make relief available as quickly as possible,” said Cotton.

Under this designation, Arkansans will be eligible to apply for Individual Assistance to cover the costs of temporary housing, home repairs and replacement, housing construction, transportation, food commodities and coupons, crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance, legal services, Small Business Administration low interest loans, and medical, dental, and funeral expenses. Faulkner County will also be eligible to apply for Public Assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. All Arkansas counties will also be eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which helps prevent or reduce long-term risks to life and property.

Other counties could be added to the list later. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has been in Arkansas and he named Timothy Scranton as FEMA coordinating officer here.

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