Fort Smith waives building permit, city inspection fees for flood victims

Fox 24

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFTA)–The city of Fort Smith has taken extra steps to move flood survivors closer to the life they lived before the historic flooding.

But, rebuilding the River Valley doesn’t come without a hefty price tag.

All together the city of Fort Smith estimates it will cost flood victims $40,000 in fees to get their homes back in order.

It’s an extra burden City Director Neal Martin says shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of people who have already lost so much.

Martin said, “They’re already having to deal with being displaced from their homes, already having to deal with memories being destroyed, homes being destroyed, and so we wanted to at least provide some relief to them by waiving the fees.”

The city is waiving building permit and city inspection fees connected with repairing structures destroyed in the historic floods.

Those who have already gone through the permitting process will be refunded by the city.

According to Martin, Fort Smith has worked with FEMA and other agencies to compile a list of over 250 people who qualify to have their fees waived.

“Now hopefully FEMA insurance will be able to come through on the rest of that,” he said.

That’s where Javier Caltenco with the Small Business Administration comes in.

Once residents apply for FEMA, they can refer to SBA for further assistance.

Caltenco said, “So far in the state of Arkansas, we have approved 52 home loans, for a total of just under $4 million.”

SBA is here to get flood survivors back on their feet by providing low interest federal disaster loans, which Caltenco takes pride in.

“You know, we can’t help everybody but if we can help some individuals, you know it gives you a great feeling,” he said.

You can find Caltenco and his team inside the FEMA disaster recovery center in the Central Mall along with other organizations ready to help in whatever way they can.

Martin said, “I’ve toured some of these homes and I’ve walked in them. I’ve talked to the people, and they’re going through a lot. I mean it’s nerve racking to lose your house. So, this hopefully provides a little bit of comfort for them so they can move forward with the rebuilding, move forward with their lives.”

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