Feds Deny Emergency Declaration for Arkansas after February 24 Tornadoes

MARCH 9, 2007 - Posted at 7:08 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas's two senators say Arkansas won't get a federal disaster declaration for Desha County after tornadoes devastated Dumas on February 24.  But they said the Federal Emergency Management Agency pledges to work to get travel trailers or mobile homes to those who need them.

Senator Blanche Lincoln said yesterday that FEMA said it would work through the General Services Administration to obtain 30 FEMA travel trailers and mobile homes for Desha County residents who need temporary housing.

The storm injured 27 people in Dumas, destroyed or damaged 150 homes, and put at least 800 people out of work in the small town.  For days, the town was without electricity and residents had to boil their drinking water as a health precaution.

Lincoln said she strongly disagrees with FEMA's decision.  But she said the news of the temporary homes is an important first step in making the people of Desha County whole again.

Senator Mark Pryor expressed dismay at the denial and the delay in reaching a decision.  He said it took 12 long days for FEMA to make a final decision about the disaster declaration, and it was the wrong one.  Pryor said the agency, under the direction of President Bush, was abandoning the residents of Dumas.

Pryor called FEMA's actions inexcusable, and said that, as a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, he would see that the matter gets a thorough examination.

Pryor said that release by FEMA of 30 used mobile homes or travel trailers to house the homeless is a good first step, but more can and should be done.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)