WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As recovery operations begin in Arkansas, President Clinton, FEMA Director Witt, along with Regional, State and local officials, toured the disaster area yesterday.
The severe weather that began across the southeast Jan. 21 to 22, produced a new one-day record number of tornadoes in Arkansas. The National Weather Service (NWS) recorded 38 tornadoes on Jan. 21, surpassing Texas' previous record of 20 set in 1991. The system also produced large hail, heavy downpours and high winds.
Local officials confirm seven storm-related fatalities, four in White County, one in North Little Rock and two in Little Rock. They also report 46 injuries, of which 31 occurred in White County.
Hardest hit counties were Clay, Independence, Saline, St. Francis and White. Other affected counties include Clark, Craighead, Faulkner, Greene, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lonoke, Miller, Monroe, Phillips and Prarie.
Preliminary State damage assessments indicate more than 1,300 homes were affected, of which 427 were destroyed and more than 900 were damaged. Neighborhoods in the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County) reported the highest number of homes impacted with more than 100 destroyed and 500 damaged.
Damage to power lines, phone lines, agricultural structures and trees is being reported across affected counties. Residents in Beebe (White County) are without power and water service. Power and phone outages are being reported in Greene County and power is out in Miller and Hot Spring counties.
Weather conditions have improved across the state and cleanup and additional damage assessment activities are underway.
The American Red Cross (ARC) is operating three shelters, in Beebe, Little Rock and Newark.
The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated. State Police and National Guard units are providing security in some of the damaged areas. Little Rock Air Force Base is providing personnel to assist with debris removal. FEMA and State personnel are exploring ways to provide temporary classroom space for damaged schools in Beebe (White County).
FEMA's Regional Operational Center (ROC) in Denton, Texas (Region Six) has been activated and has deployed an advance element of their Emergency Response Team (ERT-A) to set up a Disaster Field Office (DFO) in Little Rock.
The Small Business Administration has also deployed a disaster team to work in the Arkansas DFO. The DFO is expected to be operational by early tomorrow. Twelve FEMA/State Community Relations teams conducted damage assessments and handed out flyers with assistance information yesterday in the five designated counties. The teams have also Been sent to the Little Rock area.
Four Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are currently scheduled to open late on Jan. 27. The locations are Sardis (Saline County), Beebe (White County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County). The fourth DRC will be a mobile unit.