May 31, 2024 - News

Biden approves disaster aid in Arkansas: How to apply

photo of storm damage

Storm-damaged utility lines in Rogers. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Benton County residents with storm-related property damage have the green light to apply for federal help.

Driving the news: At the request of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, President Biden declared a major disaster in Arkansas late Thursday. The declaration makes federal funding available to people affected by the Memorial Day weekend storms in Benton, Boone and Marion counties.

State of play: Residents can apply at disasterassistance.gov, on the FEMA app or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

  • FEMA plans to set up a disaster recovery center in Benton County this week where people can apply in person, Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said Friday during a news conference.
  • The location and whether there will be more than one center is TBD, said Robert McGowan, county administrator of public safety.
  • Residents should first file claims with their insurance companies.
  • The maximum benefit for individuals is $47,500, McGowan said he was told by FEMA officials.

What it means: Assistance can include hazard mitigation, grants for temporary housing and home repairs, or low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, per the White House. State and local governments, as well as nonprofit organizations, may also receive funding for emergency work.

  • Officials from the Small Business Administration are also in NWA and plan to establish a location for people whose jobs or businesses were affected by the storms to apply in person for loans, Rogers Mayor Greg Hines said.

What they're saying: "We know we had a housing problem before the disaster hit," Moehring said.

  • Shelter and housing, along with debris removal, are the most pressing matters for the county, which is working to have wreckage professionally removed.
  • "We're going to be working on that all summer. This is going to be a huge task," he said.
  • Eight or nine roads in Bentonville remained closed Friday, down from 96 just after the storms, Mayor Stephanie Orman said.

By the numbers: Storms destroyed at least 54 homes and majorly damaged another 146, McGowan said Friday afternoon. Officials expect those numbers to rise as they review damage reports. The county had received more than 2,400 reports as of Friday.

  • About 350 customers in Benton County remained without electricity Sunday, according to PowerOutage.us — down from more than 40,000 last Monday.
  • The city of Rogers plans to apply for federal aid. Preliminary estimates for damage to city-owned property — plus debris clearance — totals $58.5 million, city spokesperson Peter Masonis told Axios.
  • Benton County also plans to apply for aid, county spokesperson Melody Kwok told Axios. McGowan estimated the county has $750,000 in damage to county-owned buildings. The figure does not include cleanup costs.

What's next: National Guard members will continue to help in NWA through this week, Hines and county officials confirmed. They have been assisting with work including restoring electricity and directing traffic.

Drop off debris: Benton County residents (not businesses) can drop off vegetative debris (like tree branches or leaves, not things like furniture or roof materials) at the Benton County Fairgrounds or at 200 Spavinaw Ave. in Decatur. Both sites are open 7am-7pm daily.

  • Rogers residents can drop off vegetative or food waste at 3101 W. Oak St. and 2300 N. Arkansas St. from 7am-5pm Monday through Saturday.

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