U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, whose First Congressional District has many parts underwater, is hoping to tour flooded areas when he returns home this weekend and he’s already leaning on federal officials for help.
“We’ve seen footage of it,” Crawford said in an interview with Talk Business & Politics on Thursday (May 4). “Obviously, we’ve got our folks in the district that are watching this very closely. I’m going to talk to the Ag Secretary [Sonny Perdue] later today and see if we can muster some support from the federal level. We’re working with the governor’s office as close as we can, following the protocol that he has for disaster declarations.”
Gov. Hutchinson has strengthened rescue and evacuation efforts in Randolph, Sharp and Lawrence counties with the deployment of 108 National Guard personnel, along with 25 National Guard vehicles and four high-water rescue teams.
In addition, Hutchinson said the Arkansas State Police Department has sent 23 police response personnel to the area to help with search and recovery efforts. State Police officials have also deployed a mobile communications command center as part of its response efforts.
Crawford says when he returns home this weekend, a helicopter may be the only way he can get a firsthand glimpse of the hardest hit areas around Pocahontas.
“It’s going to be very difficult to fly in or drive in to Pocahontas. We’re looking at the possibility of even a helicopter. We’re going to do everything we can to get there,” he said. “This is probably worse than 2011.”
During the 2011 floods, at least $500 million worth of damage was done to agricultural land in the region, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage was also done to private and public property and businesses in Northeast Arkansas.
With the 2017 flooding – and potentially more rain on its way – at least 10% of Arkansas’ rice crop could be lost as historic floodwaters wash through Northeast Arkansas and head south in the coming days. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture estimates 100,000 rice acres have probably been destroyed or significantly impacted, and that number could rise dramatically by this weekend.
Crawford said he’s ready to pull out all the stops to garner as much federal help as possible. “There’s plenty of resources that we’re putting into play there and we’re just going to need some help at the federal level.”