Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Members of Arkansas Delegation Urge President to Approve Disaster Declaration for State

Late last night I joined with fellow members of the Arkansas Delegation to write a letter to President Bush urging him and FEMA Administrator David Paulison to swiftly consider and approve the state’s request for a federal disaster declaration.

The congressional delegation’s request follows extensive damage as a result of flooding and severe thunderstorms beginning March 18. Additional counties affected by the floods will be added to this request as damage assessments are available.

Below is a copy of the letter we sent:

March 25, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to support Governor Mike Beebe’s request for a Presidential declaration of major disaster for the following counties in the State of Arkansas: Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hot Spring, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Johnson, Lawrence, Logan, Madison, Marion, Nevada, Newton, Pope, Randolph, Scott, Searcy, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, Washington, White, Woodruff and Yell.

These counties and others throughout the region suffered extensive damage as a result of flooding and severe thunderstorms beginning March 18 and continuing. Residences, businesses, and public buildings were damaged or destroyed, displacing many residents and causing an unfortunate burden on these communities. As we see in many crises, people have come to the aid of their neighbors, but further assistance is needed in order to help those impacted recover from their losses.

Currently, the State of Arkansas and local communities are beginning the process of recovering from the floods, and many of these communities are still in the process of recovering from the recent federally declared disaster caused by severe storms, tornados, and flooding in February. Pursuant to the provision of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, we ask that the State of Arkansas receive a major disaster designation for the damage assessed in the affected counties. As you are probably aware, we represent a predominantly rural state where municipal governments are often ill-equipped to respond to disasters of this magnitude. We have no doubt that all available resources at the state and local level are being used, but federal assistance will be needed to help our communities recover.

We would also like to specifically request that the affected counties in Arkansas be eligible for Individual Assistance, including the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) to include Temporary Housing and assistance with Mobile Homes, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Public Assistance Grant Program, Hazard Mitigation Statewide, Small Business Administration disaster loans, and Direct Federal Assistance.

Mr. President, we respectfully request your swift consideration and approval of this request. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.