LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — It has been two months since a catastrophic EF-3 tornado tore through Arkansas. Since March, an estimated 367,000 cubic yards of debris have been picked up in Little Rock alone.
Among the hardest hit areas of Little Rock was Walnut Valley.
Efforts to clear the area of debris continue, but some homeowners feel left behind by city contractors. The majority of homes were destroyed, leaving many residents displaced, but those aren't the only issues the tornado left in its wake.
Homeowner Michael Bevill-Smith expressed that he felt somewhat abandoned by the city and Entergy, who he said told him they would not be installing new light poles in his neighborhood.
"We've called everybody, like our representatives...we've called the mayor's office. Left six different voice mails for them. Never get a call back, ever. It's absurd. But, [Entergy] said that they're not putting [a light pole] back," said Bevill-Smith.
Area homeowners have also complained of scavengers looting ruined houses. In response, police have increased their presence in the area.
Bevill-Smith said he has run off scavengers looking through neighbors' properties, even describing encounters in which looters shamelessly boasted of possessions they had carried off.
Bevill-Smith's greatest concern, however, was that the debris around his cul de sac (Shackleford Court) would not be disposed of by city contractors, who reportedly told him and others that their dump trucks would not enter cul de sacs.
"This has been sitting here since the very first week," said Bevill-Smith. "We have asked the large trucks, large trucks say they don't do cul de sacs because they can't get in. So we call the city, the city says 'well, we're not picking up, we have contractors.' I'm like, well the contractors aren't picking up. The city's like, 'well, they're contracted to do it,' I'm like, 'well who's going to tell them to do it?"
Channel 7 arranged to meet the City Director of the ward in which Walnut Valley sits (Ward 4), Capi Peck, who Bevill-Smith sad has been the city government official most responsive to homeowners in distress.
Arriving immediately before Peck was a convoy of contractors with a large dump truck, who quickly set to work cleaning up debris from the cul de sac.
"This makes me want to jump up and down and do backflips," said Peck.
"I have been in communication with Public Works. There was some erroneous information about trucks not being able to get down to cul de sacs, but I was assured not only would we go in cul de sacs but in alleys. So, I'm delighted that they're here picking up today because this little stretch has seen, I think, the worst problems," she said.
Peck reminded that all debris must be pushed to the curb by June 11, which is the last day the services of the out-of-state contractors the city has hired will be available. After their departure, public works will take over and begin an inventory of the remaining debris.
"We're in it for the long game. It's going to take a while, but we're gonna build back," she said.
Peck also said that the city is working on a grant for trees to help affected neighborhoods replant.