Thousands of volunteers and professionals are working today as the long process of relief and recovery begins. Still, there is uncertainty about where people who want to help need to go and where their efforts will do the most good. In coming days, county officials say, those questions will be answered.
Currently, volunteers need to go to the Beryl Baptist Church in Vilonia and City Hall in Mayflower to be signed in and get tags. There is a strong law enforcement presence in both towns and along the path of the storm, and only people with some purpose are being allowed in. Sightseers are being turned away at road checkpoints.
“Sign in is imperative,” County Attorney David Hogue wrote in a news release this morning. “The signing in of volunteers affects federal assistance dollars and it allows workers to be used effectively and efficiently.”
In the next 24 hours, the volunteer response will become much more organized. Volunteers should continue to do what they’re doing today, but expect that in the next few days all volunteers will be coordinated under one authority that will assign specific repair and debris removal tasks and track progress until the jobs are done in accordance with FEMA and EPA standards.
A main volunteer resource center will be established at Home Depot in Conway, with forward volunteer access points set up in Vilonia and Mayflower — exactly where in Mayflower and Vilonia these will be is being decided.
Law enforcement will continue to focus on security at Mayflower and Vilonia and along the path of the tornado. The 7 p.m. — 7 a.m. curfew will remain in effect at the damage areas of Mayflower and Vilonia until further notice. Residents inside the damage areas can stay, if they have somewhere to stay, “but the volunteers and anyone else has to leave,” FCSO Chief Deputy Matt Rice said.