The Arkansas congressional delegation has requested a major disaster declaration for Conway, Crittenden, Jackson, Lonoke, Mississippi, Poinsett, Pulaski, Saline and Van Buren counties.

The requests, in the form of letters to President Obama and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, were sent by Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Reps. Marion Berry Vic Snyder, John Boozman, and Mike Ross.

Beginning April 30 the counties experienced severe storms, tornadoes and flooding. Preliminary assessments indicate that the most serious damage was to private homes, businesses and public utilities. The delegation has requested that Arkansas receive a major disaster declaration for the counties due to the assessed damage, and they have specifically requested assistance to provide temporary housing.

“Arkansas has experienced its share of disruptive and dangerous weather over the last few years, and this latest weather event has compounded the challenge of recovering from past storms while grappling with the effects of the economic downturn,” said Lincoln, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “It is critical that our state receive federal assistance to supplement our state and local resources to aid in the recovery process. The recent severe weather outbreak took a major emotional and economic toll on our state and our thoughts are with those who are recovering from the loss of a loved one, injury or loss of property. We need to get federal assistance to the affected communities as quickly as possible to minimize disruption.”

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from neighbors, churches, and first responders following the severe weather Arkansas recently experienced. But more help is needed,” Pryor said. “Our state and local governments cannot shoulder this burden alone, and the federal resources we are requesting are critical to help communities rebuild. I join all Arkansans in lifting up those affected by these tragic events, and I will continue to work diligently to ensure their needs are met.”

“The people of Arkansas have been hit with a natural disaster that has cost a lot of people their homes, livelihood, and even someone’s life,” Berry said. “It is in this most crucial moment that we ask the president and FEMA to take immediate action in supporting a recovery plan for the people of the distressed counties. Inaction could put many more citizens at risk, and cripple the affected area for years to come.”

“The people of these hard-hit areas really need help cleaning up in the aftermath,” Boozman said. “We are working hard to encourage the president to provide assistance to Arkansas so we can help our communities recover and rebuild.”

“Arkansas is all too familiar with how severe storms can damage property and disrupt lives,” Ross said. “I am pleased to support Gov. Mike Beebe’s request as we work together to help families recover and rebuild their lives and help ensure our communities get back on a path to long-term economic stability and growth.”