THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON DECLARES MAJOR DISASTER IN ARKANSAS AND ANNOUNCES TRAVEL TO STATE
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Arkansas and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms and tornadoes on March 1, 1997, and continuing. The President will travel to Arkansas on Tuesday to view the damage firsthand.
"Hillary and I are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life and property," said President Clinton. "The storm hit places and people we know well, and our hearts and prayers are with everyone who lost loved ones, homes and businesses. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater is already in Arkansas, surveying the damage and reporting back to me. And by tomorrow morning, FEMA Director James Lee Witt will join him to direct the federal response and ensure that federal funds are reaching those who need them." In addition, Mr. Witt has named James McClanahan of FEMA's regional office in Denton, Texas, to coordinate Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
The President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Clark, Cross, Greene, Hempstead, Jackson, Lonoke, Nevada, Pulaski, and Saline counties. Assistance can include disaster housing, grants, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding will also be made available to eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures under the Public Assistance program. Federal funding is also available on a cost share basis for hazard mitigation measures.
The Agency said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional counties may be added after the assessments are completed.
The Agency said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance immediately by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462- 7585 (TDD) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (CT) seven days a week until further notice.