After snow, some Arkansans face week without power
BY KELLY P. KISSEL Associated Press
Thursday, December 27, 2012
12/27/12 at 5:01 AM
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas' largest utility warned Wednesday that some customers who lost power during the holiday blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the state may have to ring in 2013 by candlelight.
Strong winds downed trees and power lines throughout the state that had been weighed down by ice and snow, and although the snow stopped by midday Wednesday, crews trying to restore electricity to affected homes and businesses were facing tough conditions.
"This was a very significant storm," said Hugh McDonald, the president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, whose own home was among those without power. "You try to predict how bad it's going to be. We don't think we would have predicted 192,000 outages."
McDonald said damage assessments were only 10 percent complete Wednesday, but that it was already apparent that some power would be out until Jan. 1 or later.
"It depends on the damage and terrain," McDonald said. "Most customers will be back within seven days, but the most remote areas could be longer."
"We had the freezing rain, sleet and snow compounded by the high winds. It's a lot of factors coming together to cause extensive damage, and then the process of resetting power is slowed down by the winds and the slippery roads," Entergy spokeswoman Julie Munsell said. "While we expect that we will have most people on sooner, some people could be out seven (days)."
Combined with outages at the state's electric cooperatives and government-owned utilities, the number of outages exceeded 200,000 - the worst since a similar storm at the holiday season 12 years ago.
While snow isn't unusual for the region, the Christmas Day storm was exceptional for its scale. Snow hadn't fallen in Little Rock on Christmas since 1926, but 10.3 inches had fallen by early Wednesday.
The area from north of Little Rock to around Batesville had up to 14 inches of snow.
Gov. Mike Beebe declared that only essential personnel had to report for state government jobs in the Little Rock area Wednesday and was among the few people in the Arkansas Capitol building.
Earlier Wednesday, he dispatched the National Guard to help ambulance crews that were having trouble reaching people who needed transportation to hospitals.
Original Print Headline: Arkansas power woes to linger
A vehicle abandoned by its driver is buried in snow on Maumelle Boulevard in Little Rock on Wednesday morning. A historic Christmas night winter storm dropped upwards of a foot of snow on parts of Arkansas. BENJAMIN KRAIN/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, AP