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Power failures linger in Arkansas after high-wind storm

by Clara Turnage | June 23, 2019 at 2:36 a.m.

The number of power failures across Arkansas dropped to fewer than 7,000 Saturday morning as crews continued to repair damage from a storm Wednesday evening.

Winds of up to 75 mph uprooted trees, downed 131 power lines and left 82,000 customers without electricity across the state.

By Saturday afternoon, about 5,700 Entergy customers were still without power in the state, and about 60 North Little Rock Electric customers were still in the dark.

Entergy spokesman David Lewis cited the severity of Wednesday's storm and widespread nature of the winds and lightning.

"Every storm is different," he said. "What characterized this storm was just a rapid onset and massive destruction."

Though the type of damage from the storm front was typical, Lewis said, the sheer volume of the damage made it difficult to quickly restore power to customers.

Entergy Arkansas requested 1,700 additional workers from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas and contract companies to aid in the cleanup, bringing the total number of boots on the ground to 2,100, Lewis said.

On Saturday, Lewis posted on Entergy's social media site a photo of a trampoline that high winds had flung against a power line several feet off the ground. In another photo, a lineman stood beside an uprooted tree, whose base was several feet taller than the man.

"I put those up to remind people this is a big, powerful storm and caused a huge amount of damage," Lewis said. "The other thing that made this recovery difficult that is somewhat unique to this particular storm is it's just really hot out there. We've dealt with it before, but it is a factor."

National Weather Service forecaster Jim Hood said Saturday that heat indices in central and southern Arkansas were around 105 degrees, making for a hot and humid day.

Lewis said the early summer heat means some people may not have adjusted to the temperatures, which could endanger linemen as they work.

"We encourage our guys any time to take it easy, to rest often, drink lots of water and watch out for the early signs of heat-related illness," Lewis said. "Don't push yourself to the point that you're going to be sick from the heat. Safety before speed. That's always our motto."

Lewis said power should be restored to all Entergy customers by 10 p.m. today, though for the majority of its customers' power was restored Saturday evening.

"We do the work first that gets the largest number of customers back online," Lewis said. "You've got to prioritize, and what will do the most good is what you do. It's unfortunate for some and fortunate for others."

If a customer notices that his lights are still out, while the rest of the neighborhood has electricity, Lewis said it's best to call and make sure Entergy is aware of the problem.

If a tree fell on a line that connects a house or structure to the power line, Lewis said the meter base on the house might have been damaged or pulled away from the house. The base is the property of the customer, Lewis said, and an electrician must repair the equipment before Entergy can turn on the power.

Metro on 06/23/2019

Print Headline: Power failures linger in Arkansas after high-wind storm


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