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Affected by May 26 tornadoes? Find relief resources here.

Governor Sanders confirms seven Arkansans dead from tornado

Matthew Moore

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a press conference early Sunday morning in Bentonville that eight Arkansans died during an EF-3 tornado storm early Sunday morning. The tornado crossed the Oklahoma border around 12:30 am, first touching down in the small town of Decatur in Benton County.

Governor Sanders was flanked by local, county, state, and federal leaders as she described the importance of constant coordination between the levels of government needed to recover from a tornado of this magnitude.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the fact that we have such great relationships with our mayors, county judges, county sheriff, and our federal delegation," Sanders said. "We have already have a number of contacts with the federal administration.”

Congressman Steve Womack said he has been in touch with many leaders in federal agencies, including the Small Business Administration, and expects to see strong support at the federal level. He said it’s important to remember it’s still a very dangerous scene across the region.

“On my way here, a guy drove right through a couple of power lines," Womack said. "They weren’t active, but there he was in his vehicle concerned for his wife. These are the kinds of things you have to be concerned about when you’ve had such a devastating event. We’re still under 24 hours and having to deal with it.”

Senator John Boozman gave credit to local media outlets for providing strong and reliable news and weather coverage.

“I think lives were probably saved last night because of the great job that [the media] did alerting people that this truly was a very dangerous situation," Boozman said.

Governor Sanders said she plans to spend all day Monday in the region.

“Our goal is to assess the needs and figure what is necessary and what resources we need to provide to help address whatever people are looking for in the immediate aftermath.”

The governor authorized the use of $250,000 from the Governor’s Disaster Response and Recovery Fund to be used at the discretion of the Director of the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management for recovery.

Updated: June 3, 2024 at 3:22 PM CDT
On Friday, May 31, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management increasedthe official number of people killed from seven to 10.
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Matthew Moore is senior producer for Ozarks at Large.