Governor Mike Beebe joined former President Bill Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and U.S. Senator Mark Pryor during a visit to the storm-damaged communities of Mayflower and Vilonia. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate visited the day after the storm hit.
State and local responders were on the scene quickly, while police and fire departments from other counties soon joined them. The Arkansas State Police, National Guard, Forestry Commission, Game and Fish Commission, Highway Department and other State agencies also performed admirably in the hours and days that followed. "We are too good at responding to natural disasters in Arkansas, because we get too much practice," said governor Mike Beebe.
However, most people hit by tornadoes haven't practiced or even imagined what this twister would put them through. "While visiting damaged neighborhoods from West Pulaski County to Mayflower to Vilonia, I heard amazing stories of survival and heart-wrenching details of agonizing loss," said Beebe. There is only so much anyone, even a governor, can say to those picking through debris looking for a lifetime of possessions. "We can reassure them that we will work to get them as much help as possible as the rebuilding process begins."
The good news this week was the unprecedented speed with which the President issued a Major Federal Disaster Declaration for Faulkner County. This means that FEMA is already working with our Department of Emergency Management in Mayflower and Vilonia, and that Faulkner County storm victims are eligible to sign up for individual assistance.
"While the strength of these storms was unusual, the response of our people was just exactly what we've come to expect. Volunteers have swarmed from across the State, as they always do, to help those in need. It is this spirit that helps define our people, and that continues to keep Arkansas strong," said Beebe.