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AAC


COVER STORY LEVEES Continued From Page 22 <<<


Gov. Asa Hutchinson toured flooded counties, including Conway and Perry counties, following the spring flooding. This is an aerial view of a flooded area.


— Photo by Jeremy May, Office of the Governor


Declarations of Disaster In all, the Flood of 2019 led Gov. Asa Hutchinson to de-


clare 31 of Arkansas’ 75 counties to be disaster areas, a desig- nation that allowed them to seek and receive state assistance immediately. Moreover, on June 08, 2019, the Federal Emer- gency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a Major Disas- ter Declaration, later approved by President Donald Trump. Tis declaration made 13 counties eligible to apply for indi- vidual assistance, with 12 of those counties eligible for public assistance as well.


Estimates indicate that the river flooding also caused ap-


proximately $20 million in economic loss across the state dur- ing each day of the weekslong event, a burden borne especially heavily by Arkansas’ agricultural, industrial, infrastructure, and transportation sectors.


Impacts on Levees


Additionally, the catastrophic flooding significantly im- pacted several levees across Arkansas, most conspicuously in the area of Dardanelle where a major breach occurred due to overtopping. Other levees along the river — such as one in Conway County — were diminished in efficacy as outdat- ed infrastructure such as damaged drainage pipes could not handle the vast amounts of water, leading to significant leaks. Others still — not designed to hold back as much water as they were required to during the event — appeared perched precariously on the precipice of disaster, yet held nonetheless despite Mother Nature’s best efforts to do them in.


24 Arkansan Resilience Indeed, while the flood was incredible in its breadth and


destruction, even more incredible is the fact that human loss of life was limited to one individual. Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) Executive Director Chris Villines echoed this sentiment, stating that it was “a miracle in the state of Ar- kansas that we lost only one life during that flooding.” Tis fortuitous outcome may well have been different without the gracious and courageous efforts of the people of Arkansas. From the National Guard to our first responders, from county officials to everyday citizens across the state, the cooperation shown during the Flood of 2019 ensured that help was always on its way. In the words of Gov. Hutchinson, “Tat’s how we do things in Arkansas. We take care of each other.”


Moving Forward In the wake of the flood, having reviewed the extent of the


devastation left in its path, the next step was determining how to move forward. Right off the bat, one thing was already clear to local, state, and federal officials: many of Arkansas’ levees were simply not prepared to handle an event of this magni- tude. Tis realization led Gov. Hutchinson to take multiple remedial steps. First, $350,000 in emergency funds were allocated to im- pacted counties and cities to assist with their most immediate needs. Next, the Governor requested and received legislative approval to designate $10 million in grant funding from the state’s Reserve Allocation Fund to pay for maintenance and repairs of levees. Tis funding was made available through the


COUNTY LINES, FALL 2019


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