Even as many breathed a sigh of relief that Van Buren County was spared by Sunday’s tornado, the county was sending help to Faulkner County.
On Sunday night, Van Buren County sheriff’s deputies, Clinton Police, the Office if Emergency Services and the county Rescue Squad headed to the tragic scene at Vilonia.
Many from the county are likely to travel to the towns of Vilonia and Mayflower to help with the clean-up when authorities allow civilian volunteers in. The county was the recipient of much volunteer help from near and far after suffering devastating tornadoes since 2008.
The tornado that tore through Faulkner County appeared to be at least an EF 3 tornado, with winds between 136 mph and 165 mph. Friday was the third anniversary of a tornado that killed four people in Vilonia and leveled part of the town. That tornado was classified as an EF2.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe’s request for a major disaster declaration for Faulkner County was approved Tuesday by President Obama, according to a White House press release.
Residents and business owners in Faulkner County will be able to seek federal grants and low-interest loans as they recover and rebuild from the deadly weekend tornadoes that struck Central Arkansas.
Beebe requested the declaration on Monday. The Arkansas congressional delegation had also supported the designation in letters to Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
“As we see in many crises, Arkansans have come to the aid of their neighbors, family, and friends, but further assistance is needed,” they wrote.
Fugate has named Timothy J. Scranton as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
Damage surveys are continuing, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed, according to FEMA.