Crews in Faulkner County will begin on June 30 the final stage of cleaning up debris from the April 27 tornado that left widespread destruction in Mayflower and Vilonia, officials announced Friday.
Workers have completed two passes along a 24-mile path in the county in the weeks since the twister that killed 16 people in Pulaski, Faulkner and White counties. Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson said he wanted to give people plenty of time to move any remaining debris to roadways for pickup.
"We wanted to give people notice," Dodson said of his Friday afternoon announcement. "We didn't want to catch anyone off guard."
He said he expects the final stage of the cleanup will last about two weeks.
"People won't see our trucks after that," he said.
The EF4 tornado, with winds reaching nearly 200 mph, killed three in Pulaski County, 12 in Faulkner County and one in White County. Meteorologists said the twister was nearly three-quarters of a mile wide.
"It's a very different landscape," said David Hogue, Faulkner County attorney and a spokesman for the county. "There are houses missing. There's empty slabs left. But there is also rebuilding going on."
Crews separate debris collected into six categories: vegetation; construction; white goods, which include appliances; e-goods, which include televisions and other electronics; household hazards such as cleaning supplies; and normal household garbage.
Dodson said he didn't know how much debris has been collected but noted that more than 750 dump-truck loads measuring 8,300 cubic yards of debris were taken from the River Plantation subdivision in Vilonia alone.
"It's a lot," he said of the debris. "There's magnitudes."
Vilonia Mayor James Firestone said his town "looks a lot better" after crews completed their first pass through.
"There are houses under construction," he said. "People aren't giving up. This is a strong community."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has announced that it would close its two disaster assistance application centers at 600 Arkansas 365 in Mayflower and 1122 Main St. in Vilonia today. People can check on the status of their assistance requests on the agency's website, www.disasterassistance.gov, or by calling (800) 621-3362.
"It's uplifting to see the rebuilding and construction," Dodson said. "It serves as a reminder that we're going to get through this. You pick up the pieces and build back better than ever.
"There's one house on the Dam Road subdivision that was one of the worst hit. There were two-by-fours going up before the debris was even cleared there. It just shows the spirit we have here."
State Desk on 06/14/2014