WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—sent a letter to President Donald Trump and administration officials urging them to support Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a major disaster declaration because of extensive damage caused by continued flooding and recent severe storms in the state.
“Simply put, this is a historic flood that demands the immediate attention of the federal government. This unprecedented flooding is something unseen on the Arkansas River before,” members wrote in the letter. “Our citizens will be in dire need of assistance in order to regain suitable living conditions.”
The following is the full text of the delegation’s letter of support:
On behalf of the State of Arkansas, we are writing to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request to declare a major disaster, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act, as a result of the devastating flooding and severe storms that began on May 21, 2019, and continues across the state.
Currently, 16 counties are reporting damage from extremely heavy rainfall, both locally and upriver in the Arkansas River system, with multiple levee breaches across the state leaving hundreds of structures still at risk. Governor Hutchinson declared a state of emergency on May 24, 2019, and the counties of Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell have subsequently declared states of emergency. Local, state and federal officials have assisted with evacuations and emergency protective measures in Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell counties, and shelters operating in 6 counties are currently housing Arkansans displaced by dangerously high waters.
Simply put, this is a historic flood that demands the immediate attention of the federal government. This unprecedented flooding is something unseen on the Arkansas River before. Preliminary Damage Assessments indicate that over 857 homes have sustained major damage or were destroyed across eight counties, with many not yet experiencing the full impact of the floodwaters. Out of the 1,147 homes assessed thus far, an estimated 97% are uninsured. It is also estimated that over 20% of those individuals are low income. Our citizens will be in dire need of assistance in order to regain suitable living conditions.
While Preliminary Damage Assessments have occurred, the Arkansas River has not yet crested. It is anticipated that the number of homes damaged will increase as communities experience further flooding and state and federal teams are able to fully assess the damage across the state.
The resourcefulness and resilience of Arkansans in recent weeks has
been impressive, however, as losses mount, the people of our great state hope the federal government will join in these restoration efforts. Federal government resources are critical in the immediate aftermath of this devastating flooding, and coordination between the federal government and state and local officials is crucial to begin the process of recovery and rebuilding.
We strongly support Governor Hutchinson’s request for immediate federal assistance through both Individual and Public Assistance. We are eager to assist in any way possible to ensure expedited evaluation of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions.
We thank you for the support you have already offered, and respectfully ask for your continued attention and assistance in providing the resources necessary to ensure the safety of Arkansans.