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AR reeling from storms

Gov. Mike Beebe has added a fourth county to the list of disaster areas after tornadoes and storms swept through the region last weekend.

BY P.J. HELLER | DUMAS, Ark. | February 28, 2007


"We'll get through this together and come out stronger. Don't despair."

—Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe


Gov. Mike Beebe has added a fourth county to the list of disaster areas after tornadoes and storms swept through the region last weekend.

Bradley County was added Wednesday to Desha, Drew and Union counties, which Beebe had included in an earlier disaster declaration.

At the same time, Beebe announced he was authorizing $200,000 from the governor's disaster fund to assist the cities and towns affected by the storms.

Beebe also has asked President Bush for $1.5 million in federal assistance for Dumas, which suffered extensive damage in the storm. Dumas is in Desha County.

A disaster recovery center was opened by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management in Dumas on Wednesday and was expected to remain in operation through Saturday.

Beebe had declared Desha, Drew and Union counties as disaster areas after surveying the area earlier in the week.

"We'll get through this together and come out stronger," Beebe had told an afternoon news conference. "Don't despair."

Officials from three of the major employers in Dumas, located about 90 miles southeast of Little Rock, said they planned to rebuild, according to Mayor Marion Gill.

That will come as good news to the town's nearly 5,000 residents, who were facing the prospect of being out of work for the foreseeable future.

The weather service, meantime, reported that the tornado which leveled much of the town Saturday afternoon packed winds of 138 mph to 167 mph, a rating of EF3 on the enhanced Fujita scale. It was one of four tornadoes that raked the region over the weekend, forecasters said.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management reported a total of 27 injuries, two of them children who were reported in critical condition. Initial reports had indicated as many as 40 people were injured. No fatalities were reported.

Emergency management officials said that in Dumas, 49 businesses and 84 homes were damaged or destroyed. Six mobile homes were also destroyed and major damage was reported to a community building and a 20-unit assisted living facility. In nearby Back Gate, 23 mobile homes were damaged or destroyed. One home had minor damage, one had major damage and one was destroyed, officials said.

Major damage was also reported at an electrical substation, and power was not expected to be restored to the town until mid-week. Schools were not expected to reopen until Friday. A high school and elementary school were damaged by the storm.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, who toured the area with Beebe, said he would work to get some of the 9,000 mobile homes that were originally destined for Hurricane Katrina relief but which were never used, sent to Dumas.


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