Gov. Mike Beebe has declared a statewide emergency as winter weather moves across Arkansas.
In a Thursday afternoon news release, Beebe declared that only essential state personnel in the Little Rock metropolitan area will be asked to work on Friday, with agency directors and area supervisors determining who those individuals will be.
“Combined with additional proclamations, this will ease restrictions on utility crews, fuel haulers and propane deliveries during the winter storm,” the release states.
All of Beebe’s engagements scheduled for the weekend will be postponed, and $100,000 from Beebe’s disaster fund has been released to help with storm response, the release added.
The storm, which is already causing problems in the northwest and north central parts of Arkansas, is expected to blanket a large portion of the state in ice, snow and freezing rain. A large number of schools and businesses across the state are already announcing they will be closed on Friday in anticipation of the winter weather.
"We've got all our people on standby,” Beebe told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Thursday. “Highway department is loaded up with material to try to do as much as they can with ice on the roadways. We have all our emergency folks that are on standby and ready to take action in whatever way they need to take action.”
“We got folks that are on standby at [the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management], and if we need to, we can call the [National Guard] out, if that becomes necessary,” Beebe said. “Sometimes in ice storms it becomes necessary to utilize a lot of guard personnel with some Humvees and heavy equipment to assist even ambulance crews and other emergency responders, who, if it gets bad enough, can't use their own vehicles, where a Humvee can [be used]. All of those plans are always on standby when you get a potential emergency, such as an ice storm or snow storm or [something] like that."
In addition to essential state employees, Entergy announced Wednesday that an additional 8,000 workers have been called in from out-of-state to help across Arkansas with the weather in various capacities, when it does arrive.
Sean Beherec contributed to this story.