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6 weeks after a tornado, Arkansas governor says recovery efforts still “a long road ahead”

No answer yet on request for aid extension, governor says by Neal Earley | May 17, 2023 at 4:43 a.m.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks with Red Cross volunteers Carolyn Harrel (from left), Brenda Canada and Jacki Breininger while touring the Red Cross headquarters on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders received an update on tornado recovery efforts Tuesday and toured the American Red Cross of Arkansas headquarters in Little Rock.

Sanders said about six weeks after a tornado tore through Central Arkansas that the recovery efforts still have "a long road ahead."

"While we are so incredibly proud and thankful of the work that organizations like the Red Cross have done and continue to do, we still have a long road ahead," Sanders said.

Sanders said the state is still waiting on a response from the federal government on its request for it to continue to cover 100% of the costs from cleanup of debris from the March 31 storm. On May 5, Sanders asked the federal government for a 30-day extension to the cost-sharing agreement that President Joe Biden approved in April.

Sanders declared a state of emergency March 31 after a tornado, rated EF3 with 165 mph peak winds, made its way across Central Arkansas. The storm tore through parts of west Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville.

Costs associated with the cleanup and protective measures from the storm total around $40.5 million, according to a letter penned by U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Rogers, and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Little Rock, and Congressmen French Hill, R-Little Rock, Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro.

"Communities across Arkansas have been working tirelessly to clean up and begin to rebuild. The additional assistance will move rebuilding efforts forward and help Arkansas families and small businesses get back on their feet," they wrote in a letter dated May 5.

Earlier this month, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. estimated it would cost the city $10 million for debris removal work.

The storm also devastated the city of Wynne, killing four and destroying its high school. The costs associated with recovery efforts for Wynne are $21.7 million, according to the letter.

Sanders estimated the tornado damaged roughly 81,00 homes in the state. The Red Cross has 800 volunteers working on the recovery efforts in Arkansas, half of whom are from out of state, Sanders said.

She announced last month the state will partner with the Red Cross to help offer temporary housing to tornado victims.

Lori Arnold-Ellis, executive director of the American Red Cross of Greater Arkansas, said the organization is still sheltering around 340 households in hotels. Arnold-Ellis said most of those families faced the greatest damage from the storm, saying the tornado totally destroyed their homes.

Those still needing assistance can find more information at

Print Headline: Sanders gets post-storm update


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