While there is still evidence of the storm system that hit Walnut Ridge in the early morning hours on May 4, many pulled together from Lawrence County and beyond to respond to the needs in the community.
Mayor Charles Snapp said Imboden, Batesville, Jonesboro and Paragould all sent teams to help with the effort, and Logan Gleghorn, 25, a Walnut Ridge firefighter, oversaw the daily operations of the cleanup.
The Paragould mayor provided a truck with a knuckle boom and dump bed for an extended period, which Snapp said was instrumental in the cleanup. The city of Walnut Ridge paid the driver’s wages and truck expense from the city of Paragould to pick up tree debris that was piled alongside the road.
Brady Farms offered the use of land to haul the tree debris for it to be burned under an ADEQ permit. Once it is burned, the ash has to be hauled to the landfill. There is also a burn site at the Walnut Ridge Airport for tree debris from the storm damage.
In addition, Snapp noted that several businesses and individuals helped with cleanup efforts, as well.
Swindle Tree Service volunteered most of the day of the storm to help get roads clear, and Mike Smith with Smitty’s Construction provided an excavator.
Clark General Contractors also provided equipment, as did Pratt’s Auto Salvage, Hickman Excavating and Council Member Ty Callahan.
Snapp said the cleanup is far from over, with some businesses still having some cleanup to do and some plans uncertain on the more heavily damaged buildings.
He said Barton’s, which was open the same day after the storm, has indicated that they will rebuild what was damaged at their facility.
Fire Chief Chris Jones said the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management was planning a follow up visit, but a disaster declaration was a good possibility.
“County Judge John Thomison has made the declaration at the county level,” Jones said. “The governor has to declare and then it goes to Washington.”
He said damage to infrastructure, public property, utilities and non-profits is used to determine disaster declarations.
“We are looking at $1.5 million in damage,” Jones said. “That’s not counting businesses or homes.”
Snapp said while funds may become available through FEMA, it is because of things like this that is important to have reserve funds.
“We are keeping up with hours, loads and costs, but we have to get the city back operating,” he said.