Weekly Columns

Arkansans are all too familiar with the destruction that Mother Nature can leave behind, but that doesn’t make picking up the pieces any easier. It does however show the resilience of the people of our state. 

Many in central Arkansas have been uprooted and had their lives dramatically altered as the result of an intense storm that produced tornadoes that leveled homes, destroyed communities and took the lives of 15 people, including two children. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones and others whose lives will never be the same. 

While these communities are unrecognizable, this disaster reveals our resolve. This is a true testament of Arkansans and their willingness to help out in the most difficult circumstances. We can be encouraged by the volunteers and support coming from across the country to offer assistance. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate toured damage the day after the storm. The following day, President Obama answered the calls of Governor Beebe and the entire Arkansas Congressional Delegation to declare Faulkner County a major disaster. This disaster declaration makes federal funding available to people in Faulkner County. 

With the help of my staff, I have been monitoring recovery efforts. I will work with the governor’s office, the congressional delegation and FEMA to make sure that Arkansans get the resources they need to respond, rebuild and recover. Help is on its way. 

Arkansas’s most recognizable names are making a big impact. Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods are helping on the frontlines for disaster relief support efforts in the state. These companies have a record of quick response to disasters, no matter where they hit. Deploying disaster relief teams to feed families impacted by the storms, emergency responders and volunteers and providing other immediate needs like water and shelter are an essential role in the recovery process. We are blessed to have their support as well as time from numerous volunteers, donations from Arkansans and people across the country concerned for our state. 

Red Cross shelters supported more than 200 people in need of immediate housing after the storm and continues to provide assistance for families displaced by this disaster. This is an important service and a sign of hope in a time of crisis.

We truly have the support of the nation. We’ve seen fundraising efforts launched to help the recovery process, donation drives across the state, and countless volunteers lending a hand. Arkansans have always come together in the most difficult times to help neighbors in need. It’s clear that commitment continues today. We are blessed to have such an outpouring of support. 

Sometimes it takes the worst circumstances to bring out our best. It’s what we do now to help people in need that shows who we are. 

Arkansans have a history of coming together in times of need. We will help comfort those who lost loved ones, possessions and pick up the pieces from this disaster. My office is here to help if you have questions and don’t know where to turn. We will get through this and we will do it together.