Arkansas is receiving an additional $250,000 in emergency funding for flood relief in the state. Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the announcement Wednesday during a news conference at the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) at Camp Robinson. This funding comes after Hutchinson announced $100,000 in funding earlier in the week. Hutchinson said this increase came at the request of ADEM. During the conference, Hutchinson spoke on an earlier conversation with President Donald Trump about the flooding.
"He offered his full support and he assured me that FEMA’s on board here as they are and that they will be here to assist us as needed," Hutchinson said. Hutchinson also formalized his request for emergency assistance, saying he signed a letter today to the president for that aid.
"This sets the stage for when we do our damage assessments to asking for a more formalized presidential declaration," Hutchinson said. "But today I’ve asked him to provide federal assistance from the federal standpoint and to expedite their review and the assistance that they can provide." Arkansas has also received assets such as automated equipment from neighboring states of Missouri and Tennessee. According to Hutchinson, currently there are over 12 state highways closed due to high water, with further damage unknowable due to the unprecedented amount of water.
"This is a flood of historic magnitude. It surpasses all Arkansas River flooding in our recorded history. That should be enough to get everybody’s attention," Hutchinson said. Hutchinson will spend tomorrow in Fort Smith assessing the destruction through an aerial assessment.
"First and most immediate impact is in the Fort Smith and Van Buren area. They are working very hard to evacuate. They are working very hard to preserve property and to mitigate against the damage that we know is coming," Hutchinson said. The state is also keeping an eye on the state’s levees, which are not equipped for this level of water. A.J. Gary, director of ADEM, said he expects the emergency operation center to be fully activated for at least the next two weeks.
"As the governor stated, there’s a lot of unknowns. We don’t know if those levees will hold and we really want to stress that people in those communities communicate with their local emergency management in their county. Pay attention to what’s going on and if they’re anywhere near the river, they need to get away from it," Gary said.
The Arkansas River is expected to crest in the Little Rock area by next Monday.