• Cynthia Fuller

Long-Term Recovery Makes an Impact in Northeast Arkansas

Jonesboro, Arkansas (July 19, 2022) – In December, The Salvation Army of Jonesboro immediately deployed emergency disaster services after a strong and deadly storm system left destruction in its way in Northeast Arkansas as well as Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. The initial response included food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care as well as participation in a multi-agency resource center.

However, many of those affected have months, if not years, of recovery ahead. The Salvation Army is working to facilitate long-term recovery groups in Trumann and the Monette/Leachville areas.  Long-term recovery helps with individual unmet needs when personal resources, insurance, and government grants/loans are insufficient to meet the need. The goal is to identify the disaster-related unmet needs of individuals and households impacted by disasters. The group can then help collaborate to leverage the resources available to those affected by the disaster.

One of the first projects to come up was residential debris clean-up in Trumann. More than 40 homes in Trumann needed help with debris removal. The City/County was unable to provide removal assistance as the area didn’t receive a public assistance grant leaving it to the homeowners at their own expense. Most could not provide the labor or the trucking and dump fees.

About this time, Gillis Incorporated, a general contracting company stepped in. After meeting with the mayor and working with the long-term recovery committee, Jim Gillis, owner of Gillis, Incorporated, donated his time, equipment/resources, and coordinated the efforts to haul the debris. The Salvation Army committed to paying for trucking and dump fees. When speaking with Gillis, he said, “I have always enjoyed helping and doing good for others. I thought to myself, ‘I can do that – I can help Truman clean-up no matter what it takes.’  It’s just who I am, not only existing to make a living but how to live spiritually.” Gillis goes on to say, “I am truly amazed at the leadership of The Salvation Army and very pleased with all they are doing to help the communities affected by the December tornadoes.”

Terah Redman, area long-term recovery coordinator, who is coordinating the overall project, states “It has been amazing to work with Laurie (Arkansas-Oklahoma Divisional Director of Emergency Disaster Services) and The Salvation Army. Their generosity has allowed us to help families that were not able to help themselves. Now that the debris is cleaned up, our town is starting to slowly piece their lives back together. With The Salvation Army’s assistance, both monetarily and Laurie’s support, we were able to accomplish things that would have taken our residents years to afford in only weeks.”

The Emergency Disaster Team of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division of The Salvation Army continues to travel to the area regularly to facilitate meetings with key partners for long-term recovery.  Case management is slowly beginning to assist each individual/family on a case-by-case basis.