With the Arkansas River back below flood stage, the American Red Cross is refocusing its efforts to help victims of the massive flood. Spokeswoman Christina Fowler says the group is closing its final shelter in the state, which is in North Little Rock, on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Two others, located in Fort Smith and Conway, shut down over the weekend. She says that although the shelters are closing their doors, the group will continue working to help.
"As people have been able to get connected with Red Cross caseworkers, we have been able to get them transitioned to the next phase. Sheltering is that immediate emergency need that we address. Once we can get them connected with caseworkers, we can provide them more temporary housing or other resources," said Fowler. That will include helping connect victims of the flood to government and relief organizations, she said.
"Everyone is going to have a different look and feel to what it’s going to take for them to get back onto their feet, to get to the place where they were prior to when the floodwaters arrived," Fowler said.
Several relief organizations, including the American Red Cross, will open a Multi-Agency Resource Center in Pine Bluff as another way to provide assistance to victims of the flood. The center will be open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center. It’s located at 211 West 3rd Avenue. Identification verifying an address may be required for residents to be eligible for assistance from certain agencies.
On Monday four counties in the state were added to a major disaster declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, bringing the total to 12. Arkansas, Desha, Logan and Pope counties will now be eligible to receive federal assistance following the flood. Previous counties named were Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell counties.
Logan County Emergency Manager Tobi Miller says residents there were happy to hear about the federal assistance. 11 homes in the county were inundated with water, she said.
"They are needing the assistance," Miller said. "They’ve been pretty resilient, and they’ve been trying to help themselves a lot."
Miller said she has been in close contact with impacted residents and knowing beforehand that flooding would be occurring gave officials time to prepare.
"During the time that we were planning for the flood, we had several days to pinpoint which houses were going to be inundated. Some of the areas were going to be cut off from being able to exit or enter their homes, so we were able to notify [them]," said Miller.
Most roads in the county have reopened, she said, allowing people to finally return to their homes. Those who sustained damage should reach out for federal assistance, Miller said.
"We’re just encouraging everyone that was affected by the flood to apply and let FEMA make that decision on what type of assistance they get."