The flooding continues and the forecasts call for more rain. The assistance is just beginning.
Saturday, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe declared all but twenty of the state’s counties as disaster areas, a prerequisite to filing a request for federal assistance in dealing with the cleanup.
Damage is still being assessed by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, working in tandem with Federal Emergency Management Agency teams. Officials say 21 people died in Arkansas as a result of the powerful storm systems that swept the state beginning April 15th.
“We feel we might qualify for some federal assistance,” said Matt DeCample, a spokesman for the governor. “We’re pretty confident we’ll reach the threshold for federal assistance.”
57 counties suffered extensive damage from the dual rounds of tornadoes, flooding, and strong straight-line winds. The first bout of severe weather killed seven, and fourteen more died when a second wave of storm activity swept across Arkansas.
Arkansas officials are hoping that a federal determination could come as early as Sunday or Monday.
More rain is forecast in Arkansas and Oklahoma over the weekend. Both states are watching warily as many rivers continue to run at near-flood levels, and water management systems such as Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma may be required to release water.
Predictions have from two to five additional inches of rain extending from Texas, into Oklahoma and Arkansas to Kentucky.