U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with U.S. Representative Steve Womack (AR-3), today announced that the City of Denning will receive assistance to build a new community center, which will also serve as a tornado shelter, helping the city rebuild structures destroyed by a tornado in 2011.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development last week approved a $35,000 grant and an $182,000 loan for the project. The new community center will be a 1,600 square foot building that will also serve as a tornado shelter for over 150 people. It will be complete with a fully equipped kitchen, bathrooms with showers and a backup generator to provide power.
"Families in Denning have pulled together to rebuild," Pryor said. "I'm pleased this financing will address a missing piece in their recovery, allowing the community to build a place to hold meetings and events and take cover during severe storms."
"These funds will help the community of Denning continue to rebuild from the devastation caused by last spring's storms and allow the city put the necessary infrastructure in place to provide safety for citizens should tornados and violent storms strike again," Boozman said.
"This grant will help provide much needed assistance to the Denning community as they continue to recover from last year's devastating tornado," said Womack. "These funds will go toward a new community center/tornado shelter for residents, ensuring safe refuge during severe weather in the future."
On May 25, 2011, a tornado up to mile wide hit the small Franklin County community of Denning. During the tornado, the Denning City Hall, Water Department building, and numerous homes were destroyed. Two people lost their lives in the storm.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the community worked to replace infrastructure destroyed by the tornado. The city has replaced the electrical lines that were lost and rebuild its Water Department Building, which is now a 20 x 40 metal building. The town is currently using that Water Department building to hold City Council meetings.