Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.
Kevin Smith, the mayor of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, feels abandoned by the federal government. On Easter Sunday, a storm hit his city of 10,000, one of the poorest in the state. It knocked out power for most residents; those who'd used SNAP benefits to stock their refrigerators saw their groceries spoil. Streets flooded. Sewers overflowed. In the thick of a pandemic, debris blocked roads to the hospital.
His city faces a loss of up to 30 percent in revenue because of the coronavirus, but doesn't qualify for direct federal stimulus funding, which is reserved for those with populations of 500,000 or more. So at a time when his city needs infrastructure the most, he is weighing cuts and layoffs.