NASHVILLE – Howard County was officially declared a disaster area Monday as Governor Asa Hutchinson passed through the area to assess the damage from Sunday night’s tornado and give his support to the community going forward.
National Weather Service meteorologists investigated the storm damage the same day, preliminarily ruling that an EF-2 tornado caused the destruction early Sunday morning that killed two and injured several others.
Before his tour of the impacted area, Hutchinson stopped by the Nashville Fire Department to formally address the disaster and give his support.
“I thought it was important to be here today to assess the damage. We are all terribly concerned with the loss of life and the families affected,” Hutchinson said before going on to praise the various response teams and the officials helping with the cleanup. The governor said it was “important that the sirens went off to give warning to the citizens and to know the systems are in working condition.”
The American Red Cross, the Little River Baptist Association’s disaster relief team and a group of employees from area Home Depot locations all descended on the city over the course of the last week, with several residents of the affected areas commenting on the overwhelming show of support from each. First Baptist Church opened its family activity building to those displaced by the storm, and workers claimed to have served well over 1,000 meals per day while the city endured power outages resulting from the storm.
Power was eventually restored to all areas Wednesday afternoon.
“Howard County along with nine other counties have now been declared disasters. We have made a disaster declaration for 10 counties in Arkansas and that includes Howard County,” Hutchinson said during his address Monday. “We make the declaration at the state level then we assess the dollar amount of the damage and determine whether it meets the federal standards for disaster relief.”
He went on to explain that he would be working with city and county officials and personally assessing the damage within the coming days and weeks. Along with Hutchinson, Congressman Bruce Westerman and State Representative Justin Gonzales visited the area to lend support and express solidarity.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the families and the community,” Westerman said. “Our office will continue to work with the Governor’s office along with other state and local officials.”
Before leaving Hutchinson recognized and thanked the first responders, fireman and all who are working on the cleanup effort that remains ongoing.