ADEM starts assessing flood damage in Randolph County

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

RANDOLPH COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management conducted a preliminary damage assessment in Randolph County Tuesday.

This is after the county was hit hard by flood waters caused by the Black River rising.

"This is the first step in assessing if the state will be able to handle a disaster on its own or if federal assistance is required," said Melody Daniel, the deputy public information officer for ADEM.

The team that conducted the assessment was made up of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, representatives from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Small Business Administration.

"We went house to house because this is the individual assistance assessment," said Daniel. "We looked at what kind of damage actually occurred. This gives us a clear picture that helps us make a decision on whether or not we need to ask for federal help."

Daniel said after assessing all over Randolph County, they determined a significant amount of damage took place.

"It looks like the majority of the homes we looked at falls into the major damage or completely destroyed categories," said Daniel.

One of those properties facing a large amount of damage is the Elnora Fee Will Baptist Church.

"We had more damage this year than we did in 2011," said Gene Cullum, senior pastor of the church.

Cullum said water got up to 55 inches inside the building, flowing with force.

"One of our air units busted off the foundation," said Cullum. "It knocked the front doors open and they had sandbags too."

The church pews, appliances, and the church's library also received damage.

"We were able to salvage some of the books and some things but have mercy, this is a lot," said Cullum.

Cullum said he doesn't know the exact cost of the damage they have, but he can see that it will be astronomical.

"This will be expensive but the amount of support we have received is even more overwhelming," said Cullum. "John 3:16 Ministries, people from the Overman Buildings, the American Red Cross and several others have helped us with the cleanup efforts."

Services have temporarily been moved to a building donated to the church until they rebuild again.

Cullum said once that happens, they will hold a celebration of the flood every year.

"This will be just to celebrate the amount of help we got throughout this hard time," said Cullum.

Daniel said once the individual assistance preliminary damage assessment is completed for every county affected by the flood, they will send the information to the governor's office and ADEM will then see if they can handle the disaster on a state level or not.

She said until then, it is important that homeowners document everything as they begin the cleanup process.

"There is no guarantee that any assistance will be offered but that is going to make the process a lot easier if assistance does become available," said Daniel.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Watch Region 8 News On Demand: On your Desktop | On your Mobile device

Region 8 News App - Install or update on your: iPhone | Android