Arkansans In Action09/01/2017
The pictures we have seen this week from south Texas are painfully familiar in Arkansas.
We all recall the images of rising water as the spring storms savaged northeast Arkansas. As I watched that disaster day by day, I was impressed by the Arkansans from all over the state who pitched in to help their neighbors.
As Tropical Storm Harvey strengthened into a Category 4 storm and slammed the Gulf Coast of Texas over the past week, I was again moved as I witnessed the surge of compassion. Hundreds of people reacted quickly, often at their own peril, to rescue and shelter victims.
And it is no surprise to me that many of the people who have responded are Arkansans, who always rush to the aid of others.
It is impossible to fully calculate the number of Arkansans who are in Texas or on the way, but the number is close to 2,000. I would like to tell you about some of the efforts I am aware of.
Today, I authorized the Arkansas Army National Guard to deploy 1,500 soldiers to the hurricane zone. These men and women are forgoing the comfort and safety of home to help south Texas in these tough days. They may be away from their families for as many as 30 days.
Walmart has already donated $10 million in cash and goods to organizations including the Salvation Army, Feeding America and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, and has pledged to give an additional $10 million to the relief efforts. For every dollar a customer donates to the Red Cross, the company will donate two dollars.
Nearly 50 volunteers from The Arkansas-Oklahoma Red Cross are in Texas. The Red Cross also has sent 10 emergency response vehicles.
The Arkansas Food Bank, which is a member of the national Feeding America co-op, already is drawing from its supply of food and water. The food bank is working with partners such as Entergy, the Arkasnas Electric Cooperative, the Junior League, and schools and local businesses.
And at the Salt Bowl football game at War Memorial between Bryant and Benton this Saturday, the food bank will accept donations of peanut butter and water.
The Arkansas State Baptist Convention has sent a kitchen truck and about 40 volunteers to staff it at the NRG Convention Center in Houston, which can hold as many as 10,000 people. The organization has deployed three shower and laundry trucks, two to Houston and one to Victoria.
With the support of the Law Enforcement Support Office, several law enforcement agencies have sent officers or equipment to Texas.
The Prairie Grove police department has sent officers with trucks, trailer, utility vehicle, chainsaws, first aid equipment and generators supplied by the support office.
The Lawrence County Sherriff’s Office dive team also is helping. Members of the dive team arrived at a staging area outside of Beaumont to deliver emergency supplies and to make water rescue missions as FEMA requests.
The list of those willing to assist is a long one, and these are just the people we know about.
I want to thank those who were so generous with their fellow Arkansans this spring. And I also want to thank those who have traveled to Texas to assist in this unbelievable devastation.
Whether you are an Arkansan helping here at home or running to the rescue of our neighbors in Texas, you represent our state well. I am proud to be your governor.