Fulton County Judge Charles Willett traveled the roads in the county Dec. 5 with officials from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Willett said Emergency Management Area Coordinator Annette Cockrell and Rick Kelly were in Fulton County to determine if the area suffered enough damage from tornadoes Nov. 27 to receive state help.
The answer was no.
Willett said he was not sure what the state agency would decide when the day began but learned quickly the county had not received enough damage to qualify for state funds.
"I don't have a dollar amount yet on the overtime or materials we used related to storm damage, but what we have turned in is not enough," he said.
Fulton County road crews worked most of the night Nov. 27 following the storm cutting and removing limbs and branches from rural roads in the county. "There were several roads completely closed after the storm," the judge said. He added that all the roads were opened by the following morning.
Willett said to qualify for state emergency funds, the county needed to show $11,646 in damage to the roads, which he said would be classified as a major washout.
He said, for example a bridge in the county would have to have suffered $1,000 worth of damage attributed to the tornado. He said three or four spots (bridges) in the county showed fairly obvious damage but still did not meet state requirements. He said the worst road washout was in the northeast portion of Fulton County near Mammoth Spring.
"We (county road crews) are still in the process of trying to get these roads in better condition," he said. County crew are spot grading the areas where the major washouts occurred and, when that is completed, will go back to general road maintenance.
Willett said one good thing did come out of the visit by the state officials -- the possibility of getting one of the heaviest traveled bridges in the county fixed.
"The bridge at Big Creek in the Wirth community has been in need of repair for quite some time. I took the opportunity while the state people were here to show them the bridge. I have submitted a grant to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to fix the bridge," Judge Willett said.
Willett said the supports on the bridge are falling down, there are wall cracks in the bridge and rebar is exposed. "We estimated that it will take $90,000 to fix the bridge. If we receive the grant the now one-lane bridge will be turned into two lanes," he said.
Willett said the state's visit to the county Dec. 6 was the first time they had been in the county since the tornadoes hit. "They have been busy in other areas of the state that received more damage. They classified our damage as general maintenance," he said.
"Bottom line is we were lucky no one got hurt and no more damage was done, not only to county roads but personal property. If we can receive the grant to fix that bridge on Big Creek, I will be happy with the outcome of the state officials' visit to the county," the judge said.
National Weather Service officials have confirmed that at least one, possibly two tornadoes touched down in Fulton County Nov. 27. Two mobile homes were destroyed, several outbuildings were either destroyed or received extensive damage, and large, mostly cedar trees were twisted off near the ground, littering county roads and forcing the road crews to work through the night.
The judge said county residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm can call the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management at 877-828-3362 to see if they qualify for any type of state assistance.