Washington County residents seek financial assistance for tornado recovery

SPRINGDALE — About 30 residents have applied for financial assistance to restore their homes after a March 30 tornado.

Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management set up their Disaster Outreach Center at the Springdale Recreation Center on Tuesday.

The Division of Emergency Management reports that 30 people had applied for grants as of Friday afternoon, said LaTresha Woodruff, spokeswoman for the agency.

Colby Fulfer, chief of staff for the city of Springdale, said about 165 homes were damaged by the storm.

The small business office provides long-term, low-interest loans of up to $200,000 for damage to homes and $40,000 to replace assets, according to information provided by the administration.

The state division offers grants to residents whose loan applications are rejected.

The center will be open to residents today and Monday to Saturday next week. The deadline to apply for state assistance is May 6. The deadline to apply to the Small Business Administration is June 2.

Woodruff and Rick Tillery, a spokesman for the Small Business Administration, suspect that those 30 people sought help from both agencies at the same time.

The small business loan process takes about two weeks, Tillery said. And the state division will hold the request until the status of the loan is determined, Woodruff said.

The law requires people affected by disasters to go first to the Small Business Administration in all cases, Tillery said. He expected to see a few more people asking for help depending on the size of the tornado, Tillery said.

Woodruff and Tillery believe more people applied online or by phone.

Woodruff said the damage was localized and concentrated in certain areas, unlike other disasters his agency works on.

Small Business Administration assistance is available in Benton, Crawford, Madison and Washington counties in Arkansas and Adair County in Oklahoma, according to an administration press release.

Assistance may include home repairs, cleaning, household debris removal and repair of personal property. Businesses, second homes, vacation homes, vehicles, sheds and outbuildings are not eligible for this program, Woodruff said.

Applicants must submit several documents to request assistance, including name of landlord or tenant, address of damaged home, phone number, insurance information, social security number, and a detailed description of the damage , Woodruff said.

On April 15, Governor Asa Hutchinson declared Washington County a disaster due to damage from the EF-3 tornado.

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