Two weeks after tornadoes tore through portions of central and eastern Arkansas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had approved over $4 million in aid for affected residents.
Nearly 5,800 applicants in Pulaski, Cross and Lonoke counties have registered, states a news release issued Thursday by FEMA.
Affected residents who applied for FEMA assistance will receive a letter explaining the status of their application, according to the agency.
The letter will explain the type of assistance residents have been determined eligible to receive, as well as the amount of assistance FEMA will provide for each. The letter will also explain why an applicant has been determined to be ineligible for assistance, according to the release.
Applicants who disagree with the agency’s decision or the amount of aid listed can send an appeal letter, as well as supporting documents. According to the agency, the appeal must be in writing, signed and dated.
FEMA disaster assistance will not affect government assistance Arkansans may currently receive, such as Social Security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Assistance Program or other federal programs, the agency said.
The agency said federal disaster grants can help pay for serious disaster-related needs not covered by a person’s insurance, such as temporary housing, essential home repairs, and personal property replacement.
Three Disaster Recovery Centers opened in the state this week. The centers are at the:
-- North Little Rock Community Center, 2700 Willow St., North Little Rock.
-- West Central Community Center, 8616 Colonel Glenn Road, Little Rock.
-- Ridgeview Church, 999 U.S. 64 East, Wynne.
Staff from FEMA, the Small Business Administration, and state and local agencies will be available to meet with people about disaster assistance. At the centers, people will be able to download documents needed for their disaster recovery applications.
At each location, people can also apply for assistance, learn the status of their FEMA application, get help to understand any letters from the agency, find housing and rental assistance information, get answers to questions or resolve problems, get referrals to agencies that may offer other assistance and learn about loan programs available from the Small Business Administration.
Arkansans who want to check the status of their applications for FEMA assistance can visit DisasterAssistance.gov.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday announced temporary flexibilities for SNAP recipients in Pulaski, Cross and Lonoke counties. SNAP recipients can purchase hot foods using their benefits until April 30, a release from the agency states.
Recipients will also have until May 1 to report any loss of food as a result of power outages caused by the tornadoes.
Little Rock had distributed over 250 hotel vouchers to residents by Monday, and there was a waiting list for additional assistance, according to a news release from the city. The Red Cross is providing case management services for those on the waiting list, and the nonprofit’s temporary shelter at Calvary Baptist Church, 5700 Cantrell Road, remained open, the release states.
A voicemail left with city spokesman Aaron Sadler seeking an update on the voucher program wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.
Little Rock’s Public Works Department and contractors continued to pick up curbside debris in affected neighborhoods, according to the city.
On Twitter, the city encouraged residents to take part in National Volunteer Week by volunteering on Saturday morning in the neighborhoods affected by the tornado.
The cleanup will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Lunch and t-shirts will be provided, the post states.
Volunteers can sign up at tinyurl.com/LRVols
The North Little Rock section of the Arkansas River Trail is open, with the exception of a section that stretches from the intersection of Tournament and Championship drives to the mayor’s gate and soccer field, according to a Facebook post made by the city on Wednesday. The golf course at Burns Park has also reopened.
Debris can be taken to the Hospitality House parking lot, 402 W. Military Drive. The debris site is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and proof of North Little Rock residency is required.
In Wynne, students began returning to class on Wednesday, starting with kindergarten through eighth grade. High school uniors and seniors began classes at the East Arkansas Community College Tech Center on Thursday, while freshmen and sophomores are expected to start on Friday.
Students can eat breakfast and lunch at their campuses at no charge for the rest of the school year, “regardless of their current meal status,” according to a news release from Wynne Public Schools.
Wynne residents are also under a burn ban, due to the extensive debris that remains in the city, a news release from Fire Department Chief Kory Ward states. The ban, which prohibits burning any material, will remain in effect “until further notice.”
During a city council meeting on Tuesday, members approved an extension of Wynne’s 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and voted to allow recreational vehicles and campers to be used as living quarters on personal property for a time period of 18 months.
All Entergy Arkansas customers that could receive power have had it restored since Saturday, utility spokeswoman Brandi Hinkle said Thursday. Roughly 600 customers were without power in the state just before 2 p.m., according to an outage map.
In some cases, though, the damage is on the building’s side, rather than Entergy’s, according to Hinkle. In those situations, the people responsible for the structure must make repairs before Entergy can safely restore power.
The spokeswoman said that, at one point, Entergy was working with 1,600 residences and businesses that were unable to restore power for this reason. The utility is working on those cases as those structures are able to have power restored.
The current demand for licensed electricians and construction workers is making it “difficult” to assess how long such efforts will take, she said.
For those who need to completely rebuild their homes, Entergy is providing power for accounts who move into a temporary space, such as a mobile home, according to Hinkle. Customers seeking assistance can call 1-800-ENTERGY.
A cold front driving across Arkansas throughout Saturday will bring a chance for severe thunderstorms, according to a National Weather Service briefing issued Thursday.
The chance for severe weather will be greatest in central and eastern Arkansas. The main hazards will be hail as large as a golf ball and damaging winds, with speeds of up to 60 mph, the weather service said.
Forecasters described the risk of tornadoes as “very low.”