LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The sounds of rebuilding mingle with the sounds of frustration as time is running out for tornado survivors who have yet to seek help from FEMA.
If you sustained damage during the March 31 tornado outbreak in Pulaski, Lonoke, and Cross counties, Monday is the last day you can apply online or by phone.
To date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded more than $8.6 million in individual or household assistance to more than 3,500 applicants in Arkansas. Brian Roper is not one of them.
“You don’t give a date. You say we’ll do it until it’s done,” Roper said.
Roper lives in Little Rock and said he has not received any help from FEMA. He also said he had no time to complete the process.
“I didn’t have time for them. I had no time. I had too many people here. There was too much going on in my garden, my side garden, my front garden, my roof,” Roper admitted.
“They have to extend it and come to us and walk us through the process, which is an incredibly confusing process,” Roper added.
There’s still sheet metal in one of Roper’s trees and several stumps in his yard. Roper said that while his landlord’s insurance would help him rebuild the structure of his house, he is forced to spend thousands of dollars on his garden.
“They wanted $700 to remove each clod. I was 12, and I have to pay for that out of pocket, it’s ridiculous,” Roper said.
With its repairs far from complete, Matthew Kamphuis’ home is almost back to where it started three months ago. He can’t say the same for his wallet because of the $50,000 in damage caused by a tree falling on his house.
Kamphuis said he requested assistance from FEMA and home insurance “as soon as possible.” While insurance fought him for every penny, he says FEMA awarded him $10,000 to begin his repairs.
“Of course not as much as I would have liked, but I guess any help is better than nothing,” Kamphuis said.
He admitted applying was a difficult process, requiring time online and on the phone in his case, but he’s glad he got his paperwork together and did it.
“If you haven’t, I would definitely recommend doing it,” Kamphuis said.
But not everyone will take the advice to heart. Roper said applying to FEMA was not worth it for him.
“There is not enough time. It’s a waste of time,” Roper said.
According to FEMA, the fastest and easiest way to apply is online at www.disasterassistance.gov. If you cannot apply online, call 800-621-3362. Phone lines are open until 10 a.m. on Monday, July 3.
The City of Little Rock is also completing some of its disaster recovery efforts.
According to Aaron Sadler, spokesman for Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s office, the contracted debris removal company is conducting a final sweep of the affected areas which is expected to be completed next week.
For additional materials that have not been placed curbside by the June 25 deadline, Sadler said the landlord will need to make arrangements with a private carrier to dispose of the materials at an appropriate facility.