May 31, 2017 Edition

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Lawrence County declared
disaster area after flooding

Lawrence County is among 23 Arkansas counties that has officially been declared a disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to damaging floods of April and May.

Twenty-three other counties in the state have also been named contiguous disaster areas, meaning they, too, are eligible for federal assistance.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited Arkansas earlier this month, flying over flooded areas along the Spring River and Black River, as well as the White River in central Arkansas.

"The secretary saw firsthand the damage our state suffered due to flooding, including the destruction of thousands of acres of farmland," said Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

In early May, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture estimated crop flood damage at $64.5 million. Damages primarily resulted from at least nine broken sections of the Black River levee. The crop loss total is expected to continue to rise as more areas can be assessed.

Herb Ginn, Lawrence County extension agent, said that at least 83,000 of the county’s 200,000 acres of farm fields have been damaged.

Local farmers are concerned about how the damages will affect the area economy. "Every farmer through here has had some damage," said Walnut Ridge farmer Greg Gill. "This will put some people out of business this time."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has additionally requested a pending presidential disaster declaration. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are still compiling disaster estimates that must be made before a federal declaration can be made.

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