Monday, May 20th, will be the first day getting back to normal for most City residents, following the reported EF1 tornado that raked a path across Fort Smith about 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon, May 18. But chain saws and other equipment still will reverberate through some neighborhoods and yards of our City. It may be several days before all downed trees are cleared and debris cleaned up.
Here’s the latest the City of Fort Smith wants to make sure residents know:
NO INJURIES OR LOSS OF LIFE
There were NO reported injuries directly related to the severe storm or immediate damage. Fort Smith Fire and Police Departments responded immediately to areas of reported damage to render assistance needed. Fortunately, this consisted mainly of securing areas around downed power lines and assisting with immediately threatening hazards caused by fallen trees and heavy debris.
ASSISTANCE
Residents needing storm-related assistance should call:
Sebastian County Office of Emergency Management – (479) 783-3932 (Leave a message, get a call back.)
Red Cross – (855) 891-7325
GARBAGE PICK-UP
City Department of Sanitation (DOS) trucks will roll as usual, picking up trash and recycling on normal Monday residential and commercial routes. Trucks will pick up along all passable streets.
Residents along streets that aren’t passable on Monday or Tuesday when Sanitation trucks arrive, please don’t worry: If clean-up work is going on and blocking your street when Trash Trucks get there to pick up your garbage, we’ll continue on our route, but never fear: WE’LL BE BACK! Leave out your bins! Our trucks will keep moving, then circle back to collect your bins as soon as possible.
The Sanitation Department asks residents:
Please

· Make sure the path to your garbage and recycling bins is clear.
· Do NOT put tree limbs or debris in your garbage or recycling bins.
· Pile tree debris beside the road, if possible.
– Do NOT pile debris on top of your mailbox, utility meter, under a tree or elsewhere.
Heavy equipment used to pick up debris, with operators unable to see what’s beneath the pile, could yank out your mailbox, utility meter, etc., as it picks up debris piles.
Keep natural, biodegradable tree debris separate from construction debris like roof shingles, siding, portable building or carport pieces, etc.
Pile each in separate piles near the side of the road, if possible.
· Do NOT put tree debris into plastic bags.
– Residents are asked to use biodegradable paper, such as can be inexpensively purchased at local hardware stores, or bind bundles with biodegradable twine or string, or simply pile the debris (again, separate from non-biodegradable construction debris).
· CUT DOWN TO SIZE
Tree branches must be no longer than four to six feet (4-6’) in length to fit into Sanitation trucks.
– Sanitation will take smaller tree trunks appropriately cut to a manageable size.
– Trucks will not pick up trunks with bulky root systems attached.


TRAFFIC SIGNALS

All major City traffic signals now are operable and ready for Monday morning back-to-work traffic. FSPD thanks residents for remembering, in the immediate hours and day after the storm, that non-working traffic signals should be treated as a four-way or all-way stop. Likewise, traffic signals blinking red are to be treated as a four-way or all-way stop. Modeling this behavior helped other drivers catch on and follow suit until the City Streets & Traffic Control Department could get all major traffic lights back on line.

ROAD CLOSURES
As of late Sunday, a few residential roads remained closed due to downed trees. They are:
· 3100 Cliff Drive
· N. 33rd Street at Cliff Drive
The only one that could possible affect Monday morning traffic is:
· Jenny Lind Road between Knoxville and Louisville
SCHOOLS CLOSED
Fort Smith Public Schools are closed on Monday, May 20, as power is restored throughout all communities across the City.
BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SCAMS
Residents should be aware of possible scams and individuals posing as reputable and qualified contractors. Your Development Services Department, Office of Building Safety, and FSPD encourage residents to bear in mind these guidelines when hiring a contractor:
• Be cautious of anyone asking for money before doing any work.

• Do not pay for work that is not done or is not completed.

• Ask for references and CALL the references. Ask about quality of work, similarity of the work, and the contractor’s willingness to correct deficiencies.

• Be sure the contractor has a business license with the City of Fort Smith.

• Plumbers, electricians, and heating/air conditioning contractors must have an additional license from the State of Arkansas.

• Building permits are required on all work to buildings. This includes roof repairs, siding, and interior work. Do not let a contractor start working without a building permit, and see that they get all required inspections from the City Department of Development Services. Call the City Office of Building Safety in Development Services if you have questions about permits or inspections. (Number below.)

• Always try to get a specific written agreement that specifies the work and how much money will be paid for the work and when the payments are due.

The Fort Smith Police and Fire Departments (FSPD and FSFD) join in advising residents to always be cautious. Residents with questions may call City offices at these numbers (below) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Business License Info – 784-2216 or 784-2299
Office of Building Safety – 784-2206
City of Fort Smith Web resource:
Info on Hiring a Contractor: http://www.fortsmithar.gov/index.php/hiring-a-contractor

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