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Entergy brings in 470 workers to aid restoration

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 21, 2012 at 2:33 p.m. Updated December 21, 2012 at 4:34 p.m.

— Entergy Arkansas said it brought in 470 additional workers to assist with power restoration after this week’s storms and high winds.

Entergy said fewer than 10,000 customers were still without power on Friday, down from a peak of nearly 43,000 homes and businesses that were in the dark after a line of storms passed through Wednesday night.

The accompanying cold front brought high winds, which whipped around trees that were stressed from the summer drought. Many trees toppled over or had limbs severed and blown into power lines.

In Little Rock, more than 11,000 customers were in the dark Thursday as traffic snarled around the city because numerous traffic signals were either without electricity or were damaged by the wind.

First Electric Cooperative, which had nearly 4,000 customers in the dark Thursday, was down to just six customers still out Friday. The utility serves a broad area of central Arkansas and has customers in Cleburne, Lonoke, Perry and Pulaski counties.

South Central Electric Cooperative had almost 1,700 customers in Pike Clark and Nevada counties without power on Thursday. That number was down to 150 on Friday.

Utilities spent part of Friday planning for a possible winter storm that was forecast to affect the northern half of the state on Christmas Day.

Mel Coleman, CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, said he’s preparing for the possibility of ice, sleet and snow.

“North Arkansas Electric Cooperative is now in the early stages of planning for all possible scenarios that could affect power in the communities we serve here in north Arkansas,” Coleman said in an email.

In addition to Little Rock, Entergy said the hardest hit areas included, in order of severity: Hot Springs, El Dorado, Arkadelphia, Stephens, Gurdon, Russellville, Magnolia, Malvern, Conway, Truman, Fordyce and Pine Bluff.

Most power should be restored by Saturday, though a few difficult repairs are expected to take until Sunday to complete.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to repair the extensive damage caused by this unusual wind storm,” Entergy Arkansas customer service director Oscar Washington said in a statement. “We understand it’s cold, and it’s the holidays. We are dedicating all available resources to safely getting everyone’s power restored as quickly as possible.”

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