LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It’s been one week since the destructing tornado wiped out homes, businesses and power for thousands of Arkansans across the state.
Many from near and far have joined together to get the damage repaired and those affected back on track, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Nearly 4,000 Arkansans have applied for FEMA assistance since the tornado struck, such as Baylee Weatherford and her boyfriend Kahlil Gulley.
The couple lived at the Landings at Rock Creek apartments located on Chenal Parkway, one of the many apartment complexes where the tornado evicted residents.
“Thankfully we’re safe and it didn’t hit harder than that,” Baylee said.
As the twister hit, Weatherford’s boyfriend Kahlil became the protector for her and their 7 month old son Kahlil Jr.
Thinking about the moments that transpired a week ago, Gulley said “I couldn’t think of nothing else to do but cover them up and use my body as a shield.”
Having to start over, this family hoped to be covered by FEMA, but was denied assistance due to an error when filling out the application.
Because she has insurance on her car, which was also destroyed, Baylee checked that she was insured for her home.
FEMA said it doesn’t take much when it comes to the paperwork to be denied. They urge those applying for assistance to take their time to prevent going through an appealing process.
Baylee said she was told that the process “could take 2 to 3 weeks before they know anything.”
Although it’s a setback, Weatherford is happy to know her family will get assistance. “They definitely told us they’ll take care of us as soon as we get all of that taken care of,” she said.
So now, they continue to rely on each other, their support system, and community who they are so grateful for during this time of loss.
“Your house may not be there; your car may not be there, but you’re still alive to get those things again,” Kahlil said as he offers encouragement to those who may not see the bright side.
Still alive to kiss their newborn and eventually their second child they are expecting, this family said they most definitely are continuing to rely on God.
“It’s a lot of things God has done in my life that I never knew was him until I look back and see that I am his testimony,” Weatherford said.
Baylee has set up a GoFundMe account.
FEMA reminds Arkansans to apply for disaster assistance if you have not already done so. The fastest and easiest way to apply for assistance is by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov.
If it is not possible to apply online, call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone lines operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week.
FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance teams will be around all weekend helping residents register for federal assistance and answering any questions they may have about their recovery.