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Gov. Hutchinson Seeks Federal Disaster Declaration For River Valley Counties Affected By Historic Flooding

LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson has submitted a Federal Disaster Declaration request for eight counties affected by last month’s historic floodin...

LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson has submitted a Federal Disaster Declaration request for eight counties affected by last month's historic flooding, including Crawford, Sebastian and Yell counties.

Hutchinson sent the letter Thursday (June 6) to President Donald Trump, who indicated that the federal government would "do whatever is necessary to help out."

Preliminary damage assessments (PDAs) estimated a cost of $27.2 million to cover temporary housing, repair, and replacement housing, as well as provide for other needs required by residents, according to Hutchinson's letter.

Estimates for debris removal and emergency protective measures for local and state government run as high as $8.5 million, and the state expects the additional infrastructure losses to be in excess of $100 million.

“It’s important to note that these are early estimates on damages from a flood of historic proportion, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the final damage assessments will be record-breaking, as well,” Hutchinson said Friday (June 7).

“These preliminary estimates are based upon assessments while the water is still in place. As the water recedes, we will have a clearer picture of the overall damage in the state, but it’s important to get this information in as quickly as possible so that the President can have the information needed to act.”

Hutchinson's request is for Individual Assistance, which could help homeowners and renters recover from this major disaster.

However, the request also covers Public Assistance, which could help governmental agencies and certain non-profits with reimbursement for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

Following heavy rains around Memorial Day weekend, the Arkansas River crested at just over 40 feet, surpassing the previous record set in 1945.

The floods shut down barge traffic in Fort Smith, causing the state to lose $23 million a day, according to Hutchinson.

Thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed during the disaster, and it’s unclear at this time what kind of impact on the state’s economy the loss of crops will be.

Residents from eastern Oklahoma to the River Valley are still assessing the damage as flood water recedes.

Hutchinson’s request also seeks aid for Conway, Jefferson, Perry and Pulaski counties, which are near central Arkansas.

Additional areas may be added to this declaration if requested by the state and warranted by damage incurred from the flood event, according to the governor's office.

“We are able to request a federal disaster declaration at this early stage because of the outstanding coordination between our local, state and federal partners,” said A.J. Gary, Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM).

“The leadership and support from Governor Hutchinson has allowed us to conduct damage assessments as quickly as possible and begin the recovery process to assist those citizens impacted.”

View a full copy of the letter here.

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