- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - President Barack Obama has issued a disaster declaration for nine Arkansas counties because of recent storms, tornadoes and flooding.

The declaration makes federal funds available for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans and other programs for individuals in Crawford, Garland, Howard, Jefferson, Little River, Miller, Perry, Sebastian, and Sevier counties.

The declaration comes as the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department closed north- and southbound U.S. Highway 71 in southwestern Arkansas because of high water.

The department says nearly 2½ miles of the highway from the Arkansas Welcome Center near Texarkana in Miller County to Arkansas 380 at Ogden will remain closed until the water recedes and AHTD engineers can assess it for damage.

Barricades, signs and portable electronic message boards are being used to warn motorists of the closure.

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