Benton County files official appeal after being denied FEMA funding

Regional News

Courtesy: KFTA

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KFTA) – Benton County leaders have filed an official appeal after being denied disaster relief from FEMA.

The county is asking for millions of dollars to ensure its cities can come back from the devastating tornado that ripped through the area in October.

Benton County Administrator of Public Safety Robert McGowen said, “The track of the tornado was over 30 miles so there was a lot of damage over a 30 mile area.”

Cities in Benton County torn apart by a tornado in October-still feeling the aftermath of the storm as cleanup costs pile up.

“We got hit a little differently that a lot of other cities,” said Cave Springs Mayor Randall Noblett. “We had the survey two weeks earlier for the 11 inches of rain in 20 hours, and two weeks later we get hit with the tornado.”

Mayor Randall Noblett said after looking at the damage, the initial assessment in the city was $37,000, and for Benton County as a whole, the initial assessment totaled around $6 million.

“The heaviest hit areas were visited over those two days,” said McGowen.

But after submitting those numbers to FEMA to get funding, the couny was denied.

“It’s a per capita number for the county and then there’s a per capita number for the state,” McGowen said. “Being the only ones that were effected by this tornado, we had to meet the amount that was for the state.”

He said FEMA claimed that $6 million figure was over-estimated.

So, FEMA adjusted the number to under $4.5 million, which misses the threshold to get money from them.

Leaving the county to go back to reassess, and appeal.

McGowen said, “The city of Cave Springs is one that had additional damage that was not documented on the first one.”

Mayor Noblett said, “For Cave Springs, it was $37,000 in the initial assessment. The final assesment we did for the appeal is a little over $200,000.”

This time around, McGowen said it’s easier to prove how much money the cities need.

He said, “During that time, we have been able to complete numbers that were for actual work that was done and was not just an estimate, and those numbers were submitted with the appeal.”

In the last 24 hours, Benton County submitted a $5.6 million damage assessment for the appeal.

If the appeal is approved, cities will be reimbursed 75 percent of damage costs.

Right now, the county does not know when they will hear a response to the appeal.

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