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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: AoA Press Office
Friday, February 27, 2009 (202) 357-3507

Arkansas Seniors to Receive Disaster Recovery Assistance

HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging Edwin L. Walker announced that Arkansas has received $20,000 to help frail and at-risk seniors recover from the ice storms and damaging high winds which affected much of the northern part of the state earlier this year.

The funds, requested by the state, will provide elderly storm victims with continued community services so they can maintain their health and living status. These services include meals, transportation to pick up prescriptions and attend medical appointments, heavy chore services and continued clean-up of debris. The areas impacted by the storms have a high proportion of retired seniors. Some of the areas are quite rural and access has been difficult.

On January 29, 2009, President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration for 32 Arkansas counties in response to conditions caused by the storms. On February 6, the President designated six additional counties in Arkansas as eligible for federal assistance to address the extreme devastation. The Administration on Aging (AoA) has been working closely with the Arkansas Division of Aging and Adult Services and its community-based aging network since the declarations were issued to provide assistance. AoA has responded immediately to Arkansas’ recent request for federal assistance for seniors.

“This grant to the Arkansas aging network will help provide our seniors with some of the assistance they still need to get back on their feet,” Acting Assistant Secretary Walker said. “The ice and wind storms hit the state at an especially challenging time in our nation’s economy -- serving as an additional threat to some especially vulnerable people. The services provided with these funds will help seniors to remain in their communities and, for some, avoid costly hospitalization or nursing home stays.”

Walker continued, “We are so appreciative of the heroic efforts of Arkansas’ state and community-based organizations as well as everyday people who came to the aid of their neighbors in need.”

These storms led many of Arkansas’ low-income seniors, including some with special needs, to go with minimal food, water and heat for an extended time. Many seniors moved to temporary shelters or were taken in by relatives and neighbors. One month later, power outages continue to be an obstacle for many individuals to return home or to receive services that allow them to remain independent. The AoA will continue to work with the state and local agencies to ensure that as much support as possible is provided.

Information and resources on a variety of aging-related topics to assist elders, families, and caregivers can be found on the AoA Website at: http://www.aoa.gov

Information on Emergency Preparedness can be found at http://www.aoa.gov/aoaroot/preparedness/index.aspx