Electric companies working to restore service in aftermath of winter storm
Thousands of Saline County residents are still without power in wake of the winter storm that hit Tuesday, Christmas Day.
As of press time, estimates on how many customers are out of service or when power will be restored was not available by Benton Utilities.
"The outage is widespread," said Jeremy McAdoo, a representative from Benton Utilities. "We have crews working around the clock. Two separate crews are working 12-hour shifts."
Most power outages are due to trees falling on power lines and repairing them can be a complicated process. "There are a lot of folks with fallen power lines still," Mc Adoo said. "We are slowly making progress and will continue to make progress."
Entergy Arkansas is reporting 10,156 customers in Saline County are without electricity. The number is down 37 percent since the peak of the crisis, according to the Entergy website. A post on Entergy Arkansas' Facebook page reads, "We are here. We are listening. We are sharing everything we can as quickly as we can." Entergy customers may report power outages by calling 1-800-9OUTAGE. More information is available at www.entergy.com or www.facebook.com/EntergyARK.
First Electric is reporting that about 11,000 customers remain without power throughout Arkansas. The company has restored power to more than 19,000 customers, according to its website.
First Electric crews have located additional damage in Saline County. Because of that, as well as the hazardous conditions, First Electric estimates the remaining outages will be restored in the next 48 hours.
"First Electric employees and contractors continue to work diligently to get everyone’s service restored," according to the website.
Members may report an outage by calling 888-827-3322 or the cooperative’s main line at 800-489-7405. More information is available at www.firstelectric.coop and at www.facebook.com/FirstElectric.
Northside Church of Christ in Benton has opened its doors as a warming station. Those interested may call 501-315-1128. The church is located at 917 N. East St.
The Center at Bishop Park in Bryant is also open as a warming station. Those interested may call 501-258-6161. The center is located at 6401 Boone Rd.
The police departments have offered rides to warming shelters for anyone who needs it.
Throughout the state, Entergy Arkansas reports about 112,000 customers remain without power, according to the Associated Press.
The power company says the greatest number of outages remain in the Little Rock area where nearly 65,000 are without power and may not have service restored until next week, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is predicting possible freezing rain Friday for the northern two-thirds of the state, according to the AP. Ice accumulations are expected to be slight, but officials say it only takes a thin coating of ice to make roads treacherous. The powerful winter storm that hit the county Tuesday brought high winds and freezing rain and sleet, topped with several inches of snow.
This marked the first Christmas Day snowfall in Central Arkansas since 1926, according to the National Weather Service in North Little Rock. The weather service reported late Tuesday that a foot of snow had fallen in the southwestern Arkansas town of Vandervoort. A blizzard warning was in place in northeast Arkansas for much of the day Tuesday.
The storms were part of an enormous system that tore through the middle of the United States, bringing similar icy conditions and also tornadoes in some areas.
Tornadoes this time of year are not unheard of, according to the AP. The most lethal were the storms of Dec. 24-26, 1982, when 29 tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi killed three people and injured 32.