This page provides repairing and rebuilding information for Arkansas residents impacted by disaster.
Prepare for Disasters Now
Financial Preparedness - Being ready for a disaster is more than storing water and supplies. You also need to be financially ready. Starting early and having adequate insurance, a plan to pay your bills and access to your important records and accounts will help you get back on your feet faster and avoid problems with your credit when you need it most.
Earthquakes - Sudden rolling or shaking events caused by movement under the earth’s surface, earthquakes happen along cracks in the earth's surface, called fault lines, and can be felt over large areas, although they usually last less than one minute. Earthquakes cannot be predicted — although scientists are working on it!
Extreme Heat - Learn what actions to take when the weather is extremely hot and how to understand heat alerts from the National Weather Service that you could receive in your local area.
Floods - Learn what actions to take when you receive a flood watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area and what to do before, during, and after a flood.
Hurricanes - Learn what actions to take when you receive a hurricane watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area.
Severe Weather - Can happen anytime, in any part of the country. Severe weather can include hazardous conditions produced by thunderstorms, including damaging winds, tornadoes, large hail, flooding and flash flooding, and winter storms associated with freezing rain, sleet, snow and strong winds.
Tornadoes - Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds.
Wildfires - What actions do you need to take if you receive a fire weather watch alert from the National Weather Service for your local area and what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
Contact Your Local Building Official and/or Floodplain Manager BEFORE Starting Repairs After ANY Damage To Your Home or Business!
- Learn about National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulations regarding substantial damage and improvement BEFORE starting to make repairs.
- Ask for a Substantial Damage Determination from your local building official or floodplain manager. They will provide specific details regarding local ordinance requirements which will help you decide the best options for rebuilding.
- Local Floodplain Management requirements for new construction will apply to substantial improvements. The building must be brought into compliance with the NFIP. This may include elevating the building, relocating the building to an area outside of the high-risk flood zone, or demolishing the building and rebuilding in compliance.
- Learn if there are specific re-builiding requirements for your community.
Building Permits - Necessary After Any Natural Disaster or Structural Damage!
- Consult local building officials for information and permits when considering new construction or repairs on property affected by flooding, tornados/high winds, fire, winter storms, and/or earthquake.
- Obtaining building permits for homes or businesses located within a high-risk flood area is especially important, as additional permits may be required, such as a land use permit or zoning permit, depending on the property location.
- Local governments cannot reduce or ignore the floodplain requirements for building or repairs no matter what the cause of the damage.
- Repair projects must meet community building codes and flood-damage prevention ordinances.
- Residents are required to start construction and repair only after they have received permits from their local building department.
Cleaning Up After a Tornado
BEFORE ENTERING A BUILDING
- Check the outside of the building: Call your utility company immediately if you see downed power lines, detect gas leaks (Natural gas leaks smell like rotten eggs.) or see water gurgling up from underground.
- Look for external damage: Examine the foundation for cracks or other damage. Inspect porch roofs, overhangs and the foundation. If you find obvious damage, ask a building inspector to check the building before you go inside.
- Enter the building carefully: If the door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling is ready to cave in. Don't walk under a sagging ceiling until it has been checked.
AFTER ENTERING A BUILDING
- Turn off the main electricity breakers and valves for water and gas. Even if the power company has turned off electricity to the area, be sure to disconnect your home's main power supply. Have all utility connections inspected before resuming their use. Do not use appliances or motors that were exposed to water until they have been cleaned and dried.
- Dress for safety. A disposable dust mask will keep out nuisance dust, but consider a specialized mask with changeable filters to filter mold spores (organic vapor), asbestos, lead or other contaminants. Wear safety glasses, leather or rubber gloves and protective shoes (Avoid rubber-soled athletic shoes when walking in or around debris). This will minimize harm to you if you encounter a hazard. Hard hats, long sleeves and pants are encouraged to guard against bumps and scrapes.
- Look before you step: Floors and stairs may be covered with debris and may be very slippery. Watch out for window glass, broken bottles, nails and other hazards.
- Watch for critters: Snakes, s:kunks, raccoons and other wildlife seeking safety may choose your home for safety. Proceed with caution to avoid being startled.
- Be alert for gas leaks: Do not strike a match or use an open flame when entering a building unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage, not an open flame.
Centers for Disease Control: emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes/after.asp
Cleaning Up After a Flood
If you had water in your home, mold can become a health issue you will need to address. The following precautions are suggestions you may want to use:
- Confirm the water supply is safe to drink. Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply has been contaminated by the floodwaters. Remember to carry bottled drinking water and discard any food products that may have come in contact with floodwater.
- Wear protective clothing. Protect yourself during cleanup by wearing boots, gloves and masks. Clean and disinfect everything floodwater contacted.
- Ventilate your home. Open all doors and windows to allow air to circulate and dry out your home. Dehumidify as soon as possible after a flood.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pit and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
- Make a list of lost or damaged items. Be sure to include their age and value, and if possible, have receipts for those items available.
- Isolate any moldy objects. Seal moldy trash in plastic bags and remove them immediately. Objects you can save should be dried or frozen as soon as possible. Freezing deactivates mold.
- Prevent mold growth. Wash all surface areas in the house that came in contact with floodwater. Disinfect and wipe surfaces dry with paper towels to minimize bacterial contamination.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to learn more about cleaning up after a flood.
More Information on Flood Recovery
Know Your Risk: Has it changed?
The flood may have changed your known risks to new risks you face today or tomorrow. Stay informed through your local Floodplain Manager and maintain flood insurance.
Important Message for Flood Survivors with Flood Insurance
Please contact your insurance agent
- If your home or business was damaged or destroyed by flood, you face major decisions about your property.
- If you have questions or need help with your flood insurance contact the National Flood Insurance Program Help Center:
1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visit: www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program-technical-support-hotline
General Flood Insurance Information:
- After the Flood - tips from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
- Answers to Questions about the NFIP - Explains the basics of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and answers the most common questions.
- What You Need to Know about Federal Disaster Assistance and National Flood Insurance
- NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Handbook - gives policyholders tips about what to do before and after a flood, including filing a claim, and the steps involved in appealing a denied claim.
- Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) - is part of most Standard Flood Insurance Policies. Claims for ICC benefits are filed separately from your claim for contents or building loss.
- Filing a Flood Insurance Claim - provides steps for you to follow to file a claim.
Filing a Flood Insurance Claim
Contact your agent or insurance company. An insurance adjuster should contact you within a few days to inspect the property. Have this information ready:
Name of the Insurance Company, Policy Number, Contact Information
Obtain a Proof of Loss form from the insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster will collect evidence, take photographs of damaged property, capture high water marks inside and outside the structure, place damaged items outside the home for the adjusters inspection.
File claim with your Insurance Company within 240 days of the May 2015 floods. This is required to pay your claim.
Agree to Damage Amount with Insurer. Sign the Proof of Loss. File the claim. If major flooding has occurred, it may take longer to process claims due to the number of claims.
Increased Cost of Compliance
- ICC is also “Coverage D” in the NFIP Standard Flood Insurance Policy. It pays the insured up to $30,000 to comply with a state or local floodplain management law or ordinance affecting repair or reconstruction of a flood-damaged building. Qualifying structures must be declared a “substantially damaged” or “repetitive loss” property by a community official.
- Eligible mitigation activities are floodproofing (with few exceptions, floodproofing is only approved for commercial buildings), elevation, relocation, and demolition (or any combination thereof).
- Construction funded by ICC payments must be completed within 4 years of the substantial damage determination. ICC funds are available in addition to some federal assistance allocated for use to protect the building from future loss.
ICC claims are filed through your insurance agent. The NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Handbook provides good information about filing your ICC claim.
Lower Your Flood Insurance Premium
Talk to community officials, builders, and other experts about how you can reduce future flood losses. Then talk with your flood insurance agent about how building smarter can save you serious premium dollars.
Options May be Available to Offset Cost of Repairing, Rebuilding, or Re-Locating
Choosing the right option requires research, planning, contacting local officials, and benefit-cost assessments (e.g. relocating or elevating the building will impact flood insurance premiums, while other options will not). Talk to your local community officials about available grants to help fund mitigation activities. Also ask about relocation, buyout or acquisition programs.
If You DON'T Have Flood Insurance
- Why You Need Flood Insurance - Explains the importance of having flood insurance in addition to homeowner's insurance
- Flood Insurance vs. Disaster Assistance - Fact sheet outlining the differences between the two programs and it's impacts.
Contact your local Insurance Agent to learn about purchasing flood insurance for structures and contents.
- If you have questions or issues with your flood insurance claim please contact:
The National Flood Insurance Program Help Center at: 1-800-427-4661 or visit
- Visit FEMA's Flood Insurance Reform webpage (www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program/flood-insurance-reform) for information on the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 and other reforms.
- Communities may be eligible for Hazard Mitigation grants and loans, visit FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance webpage: www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-assistance
- Obtain a tailored list of assistance available on www.DisasterAssistance.gov
- Learn how to build safer and stronger and potentially decrease your flood insurance premiums, go to the FEMA Building Science Branch website. www.fema.gov/building-science
- For information about local building code and permit requirements, contact your local community officials.
General Flood Publications
- Build Back Safer and Stronger - What you need to know if your home or business has been flooded.
- Answers to Questions about Substantially Damaged Buildings - Explains how to properly determine if a building is substantially damaged in accordance with the NFIP regulations.
Rebuilding Safer and Stronger - After A Flood, Tornado, or Other Natural Hazard - FEMA Building Sciences Can Help
FEMA has multiple publications with information to help you and communities rebuild to be more resilient and disaster resistant.
Learn how to protect your home or business from floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and high winds, and manmade disasters (terrorism/bombs). Read how others have protected themselves in Best Practices and Case Studies and how you can protect your home and/or business visit https://www.fema.gov/protect-your-property
Below are examples of Safe Room Resources.
- Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your Home or Small Business (FEMA P-320) - Having a safe room in your home or small business can help provide "near-absolute protection" for you and your family or your employees from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds.
- Design and Construction Guidance for Community Safe Rooms (FEMA P-361) - This publication presents design, construction, and operation criteria for both residential and community safe rooms that will provide near-absolute life safety protection during tornado and hurricane events.
- Tornado Protection: Selecting Refuge Areas in Buildings (FEMA P-431) - This booklet presents information that will aid qualified architects and engineers in the identification of the best available refuge areas in existing buildings.
- Design Guidance for Shelters and Safe Rooms (FEMA 453) - The objective of this manual is to provide guidance for engineers, architects, building officials, and property owners to design shelters and safe rooms in buildings.
- Safe Room and Community Shelter Resources CD (FEMA 388 CD) - On this CD, you will find displays, posters, handouts, multimedia, and other resources that provide information about mitigating for tornadoes or other high-wind events and about the importance of safe rooms and community shelter construction in saving lives during such events.
- Community Safe Room Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provides information about safe rooms and explains that a safe room is a room or structure specifically designed and constructed to resist wind pressures and wind-borne debris impacts during an extreme-wind event, like tornadoes and hurricanes, for the purpose of providing life-safety protection.
- Residential Safe Room Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provide information about residential safe rooms and explains that a safe room is a room or structure specifically de-signed and constructed to resist wind pressures and wind-borne debris impacts during an extreme-wind event, like tornadoes and hurricanes, for the purpose of providing life-safety protection.
Publicaciones en Español
Videos - Information on Safe Rooms, "Hardening" of a Home, and Flood Mitigation
What Makes a Safe Room Safe? - An animated illustration of the key Safe Room design elements that give a Safe Room "near absolute protection" from a severe storm, tornado or hurricane.
Building Stronger After a Tornado - Following tornadoes where homes are destroyed, some homeowners are strengthing their new homes by building safer structures.
Safe Room Technical Guidance Video - Interview with Bob Franke (FEMA Region VII) regarding FEMA P-320 (Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room For Your Home or Small Business) and other guidance/research on regarding building a safe room.
Safe Room Construction Videos - These four videos depict how to construct a residential or business safe room. These videos do NOT have an audio component.
Anchoring Home Fuel Tanks - This video explain the reason why and how external fuel tanks should be anchored.
Family Elevates Home to Protect It - explains how and why a home in Georgia is being elevated after flooding.
Public Service Announcement - elevation after previous storms and the benefit of elevation.
State, Indian Tribal, and local officials develop and adopt mitigation plans to meet the requirements of the Stafford Act. The Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance provides the official guidance on these requirements and procedures for approval of hazard mitigation plans. The core steps in the graphic below show the process to complete a mitigation plan.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
The Hazard Mitgation Grant Program (HMGP) can be used to fund projects to protect either public or private property, as long as the project fits within State and local government mitigation strategies to address areas of risk and complies with HMGP guidelines. Through your State Hazard Mitigation Officer, communities and Federally Recognized Tribes can learn how to develop an application for a Hazard Mitigation Grant.
FEMA provides a variety of hazard mitigation grants to states and communities. To learn more, see the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grant Programs Fact Sheet.
Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation
It is FEMA's policy to act with care to ensure that its disaster response and recovery, mitigation and preparedness responsibilities are carried out in a manner that is consistent with all Federal environmental and historic preservation policies and laws. To learn more how you can help with this process visit the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Heritage Emergency National Task Force. Also, read “Advice for Saving Damaged Family Treasures” for the care, protection, and restoration of family heirlooms, photos, and other keepsakes, or visit the National Archives for additional information.
FEMA collects Mitigation success stories, encourages the public to share their stories, and to review stories from other residents, it is known as the Best Practices Portfolio.
Disasters in Arkansas
To view news, geographic information, financial assistance provided and related information visit the disaster specific web pages:
- DR# 4318 - Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding - Incident Period: April 26, 2017 - May 19, 2017
- DR# 4254 - Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, & Flooding - Incident period: December 26, 2015 to January 22, 2016
- DR# 4226 - Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, & Flooding - Incident period: May 07, 2015 to June 15, 2015
- DR# 4174 - Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding - Incident period: April 27, 2014 to April 28, 2014
Find Help in Arkansas
- Arkansas Contracting Licensing Board
- Attorney General's - Got Your Back Arkansas
- Arkansas Homebuilders Association
Contact your State Hazard Mitigation Officer, NFIP Coordinator, Dam Safety Program Manager, Earthquake Program Manager, and the Floodplain Management Association visit https://www.fema.gov/region-vi-mitigation-partners
Region 6 Mitigation Contacts
- Region 6 Mitigation Contacts -- to talk to a FEMA Mitigation Specialist
To Register with FEMA
Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)/TTY or log on to www.disasterassistance.gov
Hazard Mitigation - The Basics
Hazard Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of future disasters by taking action now—before the next disaster—to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk). Effective mitigation requires that we all understand local risks, address the hard choices, and invest in long-term community well-being. Without mitigation actions, we jeopardize our safety, financial security, and self-reliance.