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Gov. Hutchinson says over 300 Arkansas homes damaged by tornadoes

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shared that 307 homes were damaged and 61 of them destroyed during Friday night's storms.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In Tuesday's report, Governor Hutchinson stood alongside the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) to report the estimated damages from Friday night's storms.

The governor shared that 307 homes were damaged and 61 of them destroyed.

"It's certainly a devastated area in terms of property loss, as well as to losses of life," Gov. Hutchinson said.

But the ADEM added that those initial reports represent residential damage and do not include businesses or agricultural losses.

Gov. Hutchinson did add in his report that cotton and rice farms were damaged as well.

Officials emphasized that this data is essential in moving forward with recovery. 

"Right now, the best thing we can do for the individuals is get this data collected as quickly as possible so that we can get these other programs turned on," AJ Gary, the Director of the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, added. 

Wednesday, FEMA is expected to visit the five Arkansas counties that reported storm damage to assess the destruction themselves. And while this is a step toward recovery, federal funded relief could be months away, if Arkansas's total storm loss qualifies for disaster declaration.

The governor clarifying that "it has to be with [the state's] population, somewhere between four and five million dollars."

But the benchmark for state relief funds is lower and officials believe the impacted counties will likely qualify for those funds. However, emergency management maintains that this is just the beginning of a long road to recovery.

"Communities are going to be going through the recovery phase for a long time, this just doesn't end when the storm's over," Gary said.

As for immediate relief, there are some systems already in place as state officials work with local emergency management.

"We have shelters in place, we have our voluntary organizations that are working with the needs of people," Gov. Hutchinson added.

FEMA representatives are expected to begin their assessment Wednesday morning alongside Small Business Administration officials to go over the residential and commercial damages from the storm.