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Farm Credit Aids in NWA Storm Cleanup Farm Credit Aids in NWA Storm Cleanup

Farm Credit Aids in NWA Storm Cleanup

Farm Credit of Western Arkansas deploys cleanup efforts at four northwest Arkansas farms affected by May 26 tornadoes.

Flossie Glinski

Flossie Glinski

Communications Intern

May 26, 2024 was a devastating day for those across northwest Arkansas as seven tornadoes touched down throughout the area, leaving property destroyed and extensive damage in their paths. Farm Credit of Western Arkansas members were affected, leaving many with damaged farms, buildings and equipment.

One member, Toan Tran, faced catastrophic loss to his poultry operation.

“It’s very bad. A lot of trees are down. The chicken houses have collapsed, and the roof is gone. It’s turned upside down,” he said. “We don’t have any business right now. We have no chickens, nothing at all.”

Tran was the number one small bird producer for Simmons Foods in 2023 and now faces the loss of twelve chicken houses in the wake of the storms.

Toan Tran with Farm Credit of Western Arkansas team

After hearing that members’ farms were affected, Farm Credit employees banded together to help.

Savannah Dickinson, VP of Consumer Markets, assembled teams from different branches to begin cleanup efforts. In total, 20 employees comprised four teams that deployed to affected farms on June 4.

“It was pretty cool,” Savannah said. “I sent the email late Friday, and so many people were ready to go and move around their schedules to help our members on such short notice.”

Upon arrival at the farms, Farm Credit employees began to help as directed. Crews gathered sheet metal, insulation from chicken houses and miscellaneous trash that had been strewn around by the tornadoes. One team worked to rebuild an electric fence so a herd of cattle could resume grazing in the pasture.

“We took down several trees on fences and in the street. Then two others came to help us with a monster oak tree that had fallen across the road,” said Harrison loan officer Brady Willis, who was part of the volunteer efforts.

The seven tornadoes of May 26 were not only dangerous but historical. At 1.8 miles wide, the massive EF3 Decatur tornado is the widest tornado to ever hit Arkansas. The storms also produced the second-largest tornado in state history, which touched down around the same time in Rogers. It measured 1.7 miles wide and was rated an EF2. 

Benton County tornado map Sourced from the National Weather Service

The storms struck in the early morning and claimed at least eight lives across Arkansas. Benton County reports 75 homes destroyed, 258 with major damage and 612 with minor damage. There were 2,026 other instances of damage reported.

Brandon Haberer, CEO of Farm Credit of Western Arkansas, was among the four teams that cleaned up the farms.

“As a cooperative, we have seven principles. One of those is concern for community. From a cooperative standpoint, that’s our goal. We take care of our customers.”
Brandon Haberer, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas CEO

Farm Credit of Western Arkansas also donated supplies to those affected by the storms. Among the donations were leather gloves, cleaning supplies, feminine products, food items and water.

“I didn’t expect this at all,” said Tran. “The first time, Savannah and the group brought me food and water, and gift cards. I didn’t expect that, it was very kind. Then two or three came over to help me clean up and cut trees. It was far more than I expected. My family is so thankful for the Farm Credit staff who helped us.”

 

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