One-stop-shop help center provides resources for Northeast Arkansas storm victims

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 8:36 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2021 at 7:24 AM CST
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LEACHVILLE, Ark. (WMC) - Hope has been a scarce resource in parts of Northeast Arkansas for the last two weeks for the hundreds of families impacted by a series of tornadoes two weeks ago.

In Leachville, that hope began to shine through just a little bit brighter, perfect timing with the fast-approaching Christmas holiday.

Several relief organizations gathered under one roof at the Leachville Gymnasium for what’s commonly referred to as a Multiple Agency Resource Center (MARC).

Facilitated by the American Red Cross, entities like the Salvation Army, the United Methodist Committee on Relief and local emergency/health groups provided a “one-stop-shop” for families in need of more specific assistance than the basic necessities.

The group, collectively, is referred to as a VOAD (Volunteers, Organizations, Active, and Disasters).

“The Red Cross, we prepare, response, and recover and we are now in the recovery phase,” said Kim Mailes with the Red Cross’s Southeastern Missouri/Northeastern Arkansas Region.

These services provided at the MARC ranged from legal services, insurance Q&A, and emergency financial assistance, among other services.

“Especially concentrating on households that might have children so that we can help, maybe, replace the Christmas that might have been, unfortunately, lost during the disaster,” said Cindy Fuller with the Salvation Army’s Arkansas/Oklahoma Division.

The MARC has given some hope to families like the Newtons, who are thankful to have so many resources in one place for their situation.

“The house was gone,” said Tony Newton, recalling the Friday night his home was destroyed. “We left and went to my mom’s house 15 minutes before [the tornado] hit.”

Tony Newton and his wife, Brittany, were at the MARC to see what services could be available to them.

They were renting their home in Leachville and had only been living in the home for a little over a month with their four kids, all of whom are under the age of 10.

Looking at the glass half-full, Tony Newton said all he could do when he saw his home that night was cry.

“Thankful that we weren’t at home and that my family is safe,” he said.

“When he got back, he grabbed us and he just cried because he was thankful he made the right decision,” Brittany Newton added.

The Newtons are like many other households who were impacted.

Mailes and the Red Cross look to provide services long after the MARC comes down.

“It’s not just a one-time ‘God bless you, we wish you well’ kind of thing,” said Mailes. “We follow up and continue to offer services as time goes on. There are all sorts of things to help emotionally, spiritually, and financially help people get back on their feet.”

“We can’t help everyone or everything, but together with teamwork, we’re able to make positive impact,” Fuller said.

The Salvation Army, it’s asking specifically for monetary donations. It gives them the most flexibility to help the needs of families in Northeastern Arkansas, especially with helping give affected kids a good Christmas.

The number to call and donate is 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or you can visit their emergency disaster services website and select December 2021 Tornado Outbreak (Arkansas, Kentucky & Tennessee) under the “What would you like your donation to support?” section.

For the Red Cross, folks can donate by calling 1-800-733-2767, or go to their donation website and select Disaster Relief under the “I Want to Support” section.

The MARC will be setting up in Trumann Tuesday at the First Baptist Church of Trumann from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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