Springdale tornado victims sleep in SUV while waiting for financial aid

“Right now our living situation is that we’re hoping to stay overnight,” said Springdale tornado victim Amanda Chaffin. Chaffin and her husband were in their bedroom when the Springdale tornado destroyed their mobile home on March 30. They had been sleeping in their SUV for the past three weeks. Their six children stayed with local family members. “Sometimes I have to wait to borrow money to pay for a hotel room,” Chaffin said. “I showered at the neighbors for $10.” Chaffin and her husband had no insurance. They applied for a loan from the Small Business Administration for property damage. They were declined due to bad credit. “When working with disaster survivors, we look for a range of things,” said SBA’s Rick Tillery. “From their credit history to their assets, what they own, their income and it all comes into play to make sure they can repay the loan they take out to rebuild the property.” Chaffin is now awaiting a response from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management in hopes of securing a grant. But that doesn’t make his life any easier today. “We go to work, we pay our bills, we do what we’re supposed to do and I think there should be some kind of housing for people like us,” Chaffin said. An ADEM manager said that this could take 10 to 21 days to get a response to their application. But so far no one has been denied. Until Chaffin answered, she said it would be another night in their makeshift room.

“Right now our living situation is that we’re hoping to stay overnight,” said Springdale tornado victim Amanda Chaffin.

Chaffin and her husband were in their bedroom when the Springdale tornado destroyed their mobile home on March 30. They have been sleeping in their SUV for three weeks. Their six children stayed with local family members.

“Sometimes I have to wait to borrow money to pay for a hotel room,” Chaffin said. “I showered the neighbors for $10.”

Chaffin and her husband had no insurance. They applied for a loan from the Small Business Administration for property damage. They were declined due to bad credit.

“When working with disaster survivors, we look for a range of things,” said SBA’s Rick Tillery. “From their credit history to their assets, what they own, their income and it all comes into play to make sure they can repay the loan they take out to rebuild the property.”

Chaffin is now awaiting a response from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management in hopes of securing a grant. But that doesn’t make his life any easier today.

“We go to work, we pay our bills, we do what we’re supposed to do, and I think there should be some kind of housing for people like us,” Chaffin said.

An ADEM official said it could take 10 to 21 days to get a response to their application. But so far no one has been denied. Until Chaffin answered, she said it would be another night in their makeshift room.

About the author