Arkansas officials seek expansion of federal disaster declaration

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add nine counties to a federal disaster declaration issued after the April 27 tornado and floods.

The request was made Friday for Clay, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph and Sharp counties, according to a news release from Gov. Mike Beebe’s office. Beebe has expanded a state disaster declaration to include the nine counties.

Damage assessments in the counties found public infrastructure damage and debris-removal costs totaling $14 million, the governor’s office said. That total does not include damage and destruction of private property. Adding the counties to the federal disaster declaration would allow local governments to apply for federal assistance to help cover the costs of disaster response and infrastructure repairs.

Sixteen people died in the storms, including an unborn baby who mother was hurt. Another 153 were injured.

Assistance for individual storm victims remains available in Faulkner, Pulaski, Randolph and White counties, which already have been declared federal disaster areas. Affected residents can call FEMA at 800-621-3362 or visit a Disaster Response Center in their community.