The Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 is sending much-needed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund dollars to Arkansas communities that have been affected by disasters. The funds will help pay for almost 3,000 projects in Arkansas.
The president signed the measure late Thursday, which means that approximately $34 million in long-awaited support for Arkansas towns and counties that have experienced major disasters is on its way. The bill included $5.1 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, which helps to reimburse the known costs of past disasters and addresses the needs that arise from new disasters. Mitigation funds, which go toward projects to help prevent the effects of future disasters, are also included.
U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln today lauded the action, saying, “Arkansas has experienced its fair share of natural disasters, including flooding, ice storms and tornadoes that have resulted in lives lost and serious damage to homes, business, roads and bridges,” Lincoln said. “While our towns and citizens are strong, resilient and determined to recover quickly, they do count on the assistance of the federal government for needs that are beyond what their communities and the state can provide. Our local officials have been patiently waiting for the Disaster Relief Fund to be replenished so that recovery efforts across Arkansas could get the financial support they require. I supported the effort to replenish the Disaster Relief fund, and I am glad that the strain currently facing communities across our state will soon be alleviated.”
“The state is overjoyed the supplemental funding has passed,” said Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) Director David Maxwell. “With 2,600-plus projects totaling more than $33,000,000 currently awaiting funding, passage will be a great benefit to local governments. However, we caution those awaiting payment that although funding has finally been approved it will likely take some time before the funds reach them.”
“The floods have taken a toll on Lonoke County. We had one in June, another in October, and another on Christmas Eve in 2009,” said Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman. “Washed out culverts and roads have caused us to spend four times the amount on road repair that we normally spend. This reimbursement will allow us to repair and maintain what has been neglected, and we are grateful that it is finally making its way back to the counties.”
“Thanks to Senator Lincoln for the appropriation for the funds for the safe rooms at the Atkins and Russellville high schools,” said Pope County Judge Jim Ed Gibson. “After some of the recent storms, safe rooms in our schools has become one of our top priorities in Pope County. Again thanks for all your work on these safe rooms to make this a reality.”
“This money is critical to Arkansas counties, when a disaster occurs, counties must front the money for repairs and wait for reimbursement from FEMA,” said Arkansas County Judge Sonny Cox. “Some counties have spent as much as 80-90 percent of their budgets on disasters that occurred in 2009. Taxpayers have suffered because of this because county road repairs and county operations have been cut. After disasters, we are responsible for repairing roadways and bridges because school buses must run, mail must be delivered, and trash pickup must continue. The county economy is dependent on a quick turn around on reimbursement, and that has not happened in the past. I appreciate all that Senator Lincoln has done to assure that these funds get back into the much needed and depleted county coffers so that we can resume our work for taxpayers.”
“We’ve been counting on these FEMA funds, and it’s a relief that they are finally coming through,” said Prairie County Judge Bob Childers. “Without this money from FEMA, we’ve had to spend our county dollars making necessary road repairs, which has seriously impacted the county budget. We’re grateful that the money is on its way.”