Benton County Flood Victims Won’t Receive Individual Assistance
Residents of Benton County who suffered damages due to flooding in August will not receive Individual Assistance from the state, the county’s emergency management director said Tuesday (Sept. 10).
A letter from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) states “authorization of the State Individual Assistance Program will not be allowed unless a reasonable amount or a majority of homes have a major and/or destroyed level damages.”
The denial for individual assistance is based on the total amount of uninsured losses to residential structures within Benton County, Robert McGowen said.
“It is unfortunate we did not meet the threshold required for our residents to receive assistance from the State of Arkansas or FEMA,” he said.
Former mayor of Gateway, David White, was one uninsured homeowner affected by the flood. He said he got about 10 inches in his garage and his shed was moved by the rising water.
White said FEMA visited the town last year and determined it wasn’t a flood zone.
“I don’t have flood insurance because I didn’t feel like we needed it,” White said.
He said he’s upset the state won’t help and said his neighbors had to be evacuated and lost much more.
“To me a lot more people are worst off than I am,” White said. “I’d rather see them get it than myself.”
According to the state, there were two homes destroyed, 9 with major damage and 38 with minor damage.
“Based on what people told us is what we reported to the state and then based on our report, the state said we weren’t eligible,” McGowen said.
McGowen said he’s disappointed in the state’s decision.
“I know the small business administration will do low cost loans but as far as grants, which we were hoping for Individual Assistance we don’t know of any that will be available,” McGowen said.
Benton County received a significant amount of rain, leaving several roads washed out and damage to homes and businesses on Aug. 8. More than 200 sites were damaged.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe declared Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Marion, and Newton Counties disaster areas following the storms.