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County OK’d for disaster aid from state

Crawford was one of 22 counties in Arkansas declared a disaster area Dec. 13 by Governor Mike Beebe because of damage caused by recent winter storms.

Agents with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management met with heads from the Crawford County and City of Van Buren road departments Dec. 12 to make a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) and estimate, said Dennis Gilstrap, director of the Crawford County Department of Emergency Management.

To qualify as a state disaster area, Crawford County must have $123,896 worth of damage, Gilstrap said. To qualify for federal aide, the state must have more than $4 million and the county must have $216,818 in damages, he said.

Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative, as a nonprofit, can be included in the damage assessment for federal monies, Gilstrap said.

With that inclusion, Gilstrap is confident Crawford County will meet the monetary threshold, he said.

“I feel like Arkansas Valley, alone, will meet that criteria,” Gilstrap said.

If Arkansas does qualify, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay 75 percent of damages and the state will pay 12.5 percent, Gilstrap said.

Crawford County will receive public-assistance money only to help counties recover and repair damaged infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. No personal property assistance has been approved.

Though the money cannot be used to pay for time spent on ice and snow removal, a portion can go to reimburse counties for some overtime hours.

“Through this funding it will help pay for the extra manpower we had to use to clear debris, and things like that,” Gilstrap said.

Gilstrap expects Crawford to qualify and start initial paperwork for the federal funding within the next few weeks, he said.

Sebastian and Franklin counties also were among those declared disaster areas by the governor.

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