Former president Bill Clinton, Gov. Mike Beebe tour disaster area

VILONIA, Ark. (KTHV) - Former President Clinton joined Governor Mike Beebe and Homeland Security Secretary Jay Johnson for a tour of the hardest-hit areas in Arkansas.

It's been a week since those tornadoes hit Vilonia. The recovery process is moving along swiftly with the help of so many volunteers and organizations coming together, and improvement can be found in even the most ravaged parts of this area -- signs very apparent to the governor, former president, and secretary of homeland security

"There are heart-wrenching stories that many of you have already publicized, or already read about or seen, but with every heart-wrenching story there is a heart-warming story," and Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe Sunday morning. "Those of you that remember Sunday night and Monday morning, it's hard to believe this much could've been restored in this length of time."

A morning walk-through is all it took for President Clinton, Governor Beebe, and Homeland Security Secretary Jay Johnson to realize what Arkansans have already known—the situation in Vilonia, Mayflower, and every tornado-stricken town is quickly getting better.

Although the recovery process is still in its beginning stages, so much has happened, and so much has improved. Faulkner County received FEMA help faster than anyone before, and more than $800,000 of that help has already been approved for more than 630 Arkansans. That help for residents will soon move to the cities themselves as Mayflower and Vilonia get funds toward their disaster efforts.

"I have great confidence in this state and this is going to be fine," Clinton reassured the crowd. "We just have to identify what the problems are and fill the gaps."

Those gaps have already started to be filled and will continue to be filled.

The President and Governor talked a lot about tightening the gap between what they hope can be done and what will be done. They said FEMA's recovery plan is aggressive, which is good, but said there are some kinks to work out. For example they mentioned a church in Mayflower had to pay to throw away their debris. Officials will be trying to make little adjustments in those situations.

They also gave insight into what affected Arkansans can expect down the road, including a plan to use houses that were abandoned during the Exxon oil spill last year as an immediate shelter for displaced families. They said they have some ready to go.


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