Arkansas’ Benton County to Appeal FEMA Denial of Aid for Tornado Damages

Benton County plans to appeal the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to not help pay for the costs to clean up damages from two tornadoes that struck in October, officials said.

The county was notified of the decision by letter on Jan. 24, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The county has 30 days to appeal.

The letter did not specify why the county was denied. But Robert McGowen, county public safety administrator, said it was because the county was short $124,134 of the threshold for assistance.

Damage assessments from the October tornadoes totaled $6.5 million for uninsured public property, McGowen said. Most of the damage — $5.5 million worth — involved two electric companies.

“For some reason, FEMA did not accept the preliminary damage assessment numbers we provided them and reduced the amounts that were submitted by the entities,” McGowen said. “We are gathering the information needed to complete the appeal and show that we not only met, but exceeded, the threshold.”

If the appeal is granted, FEMA would pay 75% of the costs. If it’s denied, each entity will need to be responsible for the cost incurred from the tornado.

There is no set timetable for when the county will hear back about its appeal.