SEBASTIAN COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) — President Donald Trump is pulling millions of dollars from FEMA to enhance border security, but that money will not be taken from funds intended for local disaster areas that were flooded in May and June.
The Trump Administration is taking $271 million from the Department of Homeland Security, including Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), to fund immigration detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum-seekers forced to wait in Mexico.
Cities across West Central Arkansas, including Fort Smith and Van Buren, and Eastern Oklahoma, were devastated by flooding. Community members whose property was destroyed by floodwater are counting on FEMA funds to recover.
Those funds are still in place, according to FEMA officials.
FEMA officials issued the following statement to KNWA:
“This transfer of funds to support the border emergency will leave a remaining balance of $447 million in the DRF Base account. Based on DHS and FEMA’s review of historical emergency spending from the DRF Base account, this amount will be sufficient to support operational needs and will not impact ongoing long-term recovery efforts across the country. The DRF Majors account, which provides funding for ongoing recovery efforts, including those supporting communities impacted by the 2017 disasters, has a current balance of approximately $27 billion and is not impacted by the reprogramming.”
The counties that have been designated for federal individual assistance are Arkansas, Conway, Crawford, Desha, Faulkner, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Sebastian and Yell. Trump approved the emergency disaster declaration for those areas in late May.
Arkansas’ registration deadline for FEMA assistance was Aug. 7.
Oklahoma’s registration deadline for FEMA assistance was Aug. 14.
LeFlore and Sequoyah counties were both approved for federal assistance.