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Arkansas makes flood recovery

Arkansas residents had just started cleaning up from a mid-June flood when another hit.

BY HEATHER MOYER | GREENWOOD, Arkansas | August 10, 2004

Residents of Greenwood, Arkansas, had just started cleaning up from a mid-June flood when another hit two weeks later. High water ravaged over 90 homes, destroying some and severely damaging numerous others.

Both the flooding events occurred mostly within the Indian Hills subdivision, an area that hadn't seen flooding in over 100 years. The mid-June flood saw over six inches of rain fall in three hours. In early July, another five inches fell in only two hours. That much water overwhelmed the small creek and the drainage system in the neighborhood.

The majority of Indian Hills' residents did not have flood insurance, said Greenwood United Methodist Church (GUMC) Secretary Margaret Hall, and many live paycheck-to-paycheck.

A team made up of local churches - including GUMC - and city officials called the Flood Relief Committee (FRC) is working to meet the needs of the flood families. Hall said GUMC was active in providing immediate needs after the flood, such as food and baby supplies, but they soon saw the need for a more organized response.

"Our community pulls together well," said Hall.

GUMC pastor Paul Dubar said the flood disheartened many because they had just repaired their homes after the mid-June deluge. The high water destroyed appliances, clothes, and more. "Many had school children who lost almost all their clothes," he said. "Now school is about to start and they have nothing, so we're doing our best to help."

The flood disasters did receive a state emergency declaration, providing some funds for affected families. Dubar said the FRC has also set up some funds in local banks and that they also received a donation from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

The FRC also hired a caseworker to interview affected families and organize their needs. In the meantime, Dubar said the committee provides what they can until families can start getting their feet back on the ground.

"We've had our youth group going out to mow lawns and help clean up yards until the assistance money comes in," he explained. He added that the FRC regularly places fliers up around town so people know they're there to lend a hand.

The FRC also held several open forums for the residents to voice their concerns and frustrations.

Dubar said he and the FRC expect the Greenwood flood relief to be a long-term recovery effort. "We've made a long-term commitment," he said. "And this is definitely an interfaith movement. This isn't just the United Methodist Church helping, it's everybody we can get aboard."


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