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President Approves Disaster Declarations Following “Goliath” Floods – Polk 38 Bridge Repaired and Reopened

BY MELANIE BUCK –

President Obama has approved Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a major disaster for the State of Arkansas as a result of severe weather and flooding from late December 2015 through January 2016. The declaration will allow residents and government entities in the affected areas, who meet certain criteria, to apply for assistance.

Although 43 counties were declared disaster areas within the state, not all of those qualified for all types of federal assistance. Some counties qualified for public assistance but not individual assistance and vice versa.

Public Assistance for emergency work and repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities will be available for all 32 counties requested by the state including: Benton, Boone, Bradley, Calhoun, Carroll, Clay, Crawford, Dallas, Drew, Franklin, Greene, Independence, Izard, Lawrence, Little River, Logan, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Montgomery, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Polk, Randolph, Scott, Searcy, Stone, Washington, White, Woodruff, and Yell Counties.

Public assistance in Polk County will include repayment for damaged roads and bridges such as the one pictured on Polk Road 38. During the flood that began in Polk County on December 27, 2015, several bridges and roads were severely damaged. The Polk 38 bridge was one of the largest projects that Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison and county road crews have completed since the flood. Final cost on the bridge and the other projects has not been finalized but Ellison said over 70% of the projects that will qualify for public assistance are complete so he has an idea by the time FEMA gets here what the county’s cost was and what reimbursement is needed.

Only one road that received damage from the flood is still closed. Polk County Road 74, just south of Cove has a 20ft concrete bridge that had to be replaced. Ellison expects that project to be complete within the next couple of weeks, pending good weather.

Individual Assistance for individuals and households will be available for residents of 11 of the 19 counties requested by the state including: Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Faulkner, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Little River, Perry, Sebastian, and Sevier.

Additional designations may be added to the declaration if requested by the state and warranted by results of further damage assessments. 

Through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, funds will be available for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards for all areas of the state.

 Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will soon announce plans to open offices throughout the affected areas to accept assistance applications.

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