Rebuilding Mountainburg After Devastating Tornado

MOUNTAINBURG (KFSM)- The people of Mountainburg are still trying to piece their lives back together after a devastating EF-2 tornado tore through the area on Friday, April 13.

Despite all the damage left behind by the tornado, it wasn't enough for the city to get federal funds to rebuild. But, Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson announced he will send $100,000 from a state emergency fund to help with clean-up and some rebuilding.

Even with that help, the people of Mountainburg said it will take a lot of work and money to come back from the devastation, but want to bring it back better than it was before.

"Our goal is for Mountainburg to come back alive like it used to be in the old days,"  Mayor, Neal Moon said. "I`ll believe it will get there and this just welds that all together."

Mayor Moon said Mountainburg was on its way to returning to its glory days when the only way to get to Northwest Arkansas was through there. When I-49 opened, a lot of traffic went away, but Moon said the town was making a comeback of sorts.

"It`s a slow grow, but we`ve probably got three or four more businesses now than we did three years ago," Moon said. "We got plans for a couple three more. We do have several new businesses in town before the tornado and actually had one business open up Monday after the tornado."

Moon said before the storm, there was a movement among those who lived there to make the town better.

"I think people are just becoming excited," Moon said. "[We] got a new sidewalk project that`s just being completed and a new library. People are realizing the town is coming back alive and they`re wanting to get involved. I`ve personally been working on it for about three years, This year is the first year we`ve seen results and some businesses coming in. I think that`s going to continue to grow at a faster rate now."

Pastor Scott Reed has been the leader at Mountainburg Assembly of God Church for 22 years and said he's excited for the future.

"We`re very inviting." Reed said. "Mountainburg is a very hospitable community and we`re open and we love people, so we`re here, we`re ready. Good things are ahead. I believe the future looks good for Mountainburg and Crawford County."

Art Richmond has been an elder at First Presbyterian Church for more than 40 years and said he'd like to see once thing locate to the area.

"It would be nice if we had a restaurant of size," Richmond said. "We had one at one time, but they closed it down. All we have now is a 7-11 store."

After the storm, Mayor Moon said he's not at all bashful about using the news coverage to attract new business.

"Just the news coverage of what all is happening is reminding everybody that we`re still here," Moon said. "I want to let anybody that wants to do some investing in some small businesses. Anything that comes up for rent or for sale is sold immediately. If somebody wants to put in a subdivision, I`ve got a man that`s got an area ready for it. We need apartments, we need rooftops."

In the meantime, Mayor Moon said while people of Mountainburg work to get back on their feet, it may not seem like it driving through town, but the city is open for business.