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County-Wide Power Outage from Ice Storm – SHELTERS OPEN


Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative of Mena reports that electric  service to approximately 5,500 members has been interrupted by ice collecting on trees and power lines.

Dallas Avenue Family Life Center has opened as a Shelter for those with no heat. First Baptist in Cove is opening as a shelter for residents in the south part of the county.

Polk County Sheriff Mike Godfrey said the county’s resources are stretched thin and encourages neighbors to be checking on each other.

Roads are beginning to slush with the plummeting temperatures. The constantly falling limbs and trees are a hazard and encourages everyone to ESSENTIAL travel only.

According to Leon Philpot, president/CEO of Rich Mountain Electric, the weight of the ice on the power lines is snapping power poles and cross arms. This number could increase as ice continues to accumulate.

“Our crews are working to restore power in these areas as quickly and as safely as possible,” said Leon Philpot, president/CEO of Rich Mountain Electric. “Restoration could be prolonged in some areas due to more severe weather forecasted.”

With the forecast of additional winter weather and potential extended power outages, Rich Mountain Electric asks that if you or a family member is dependent on electric powered medical equipment, please take steps now to seek alternative shelter or a source of backup power. Please stay tuned to local television and radio for updates.

Consumers are advised to avoid downed power lines and trees touching power lines stay away as the lines may still be energized. Consumers are asked to call the Rich Mountain Electric at 479.394.4140 to report any downed power lines or trees on power lines.

Philpot said, “Our goal is to restore power safely to the greatest number of members in the shortest time possible. We will not jeopardize the safety of the storm team or the public.

According to Philpot, primary lines serving hundreds of customers are serviced first, and then the secondary lines serving fewer members are serviced.

Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative serves approximately 8,700 members in four counties in Arkansas and a portion of Oklahoma.  Incorporated in 1945, the cooperative operates offices in Mena and Dierks. The locally owned and managed organization has 28 employees.

Here is the latest information available from SWEPCO:

The peak of SWEPCO power outages for Mena and Cove has now reached 4,000 customers. SWEPCO started getting reports of outages about 6 p.m.last night. The ice storm peak of outages for western Arkansas reached 14,000 last night at midnight. This storm has hit Mena and Greenwoodextremely hard with over an inch of ice and snow.
SWEPCO total resource count went up Thursday afternoon to 550 workers dedicated to storm restoration efforts. This includes linemen, tree crews and support personnel, both inside and outside SWEPCO. External resources are here from Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Many of these resources were moved yesterday to Ft. Smith and Texarkana to avoid travel delays in anticipation of the hardest hit areas being along Highway 71 between those two cities.

Please heed all safety measures when using alternate heat sources. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, crack a small window.

As long as cell service remains, we will be able to continually keep this site updated with the latest information available. We will post as information is received.

The National Weather Service forecast is:

  • Today – Freezing rain and sleet before 1pm, then a chance of snow and sleet. Temperature falling to around 20 by 5pm. Wind chill values as low as 9. North wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime ice accumulation of 0.1 to 0.2 of an inch possible. Total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
  • Tonight – Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly clear, with a low around 11. Wind chill values as low as zero. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Saturday – Increasing clouds, with a high near 26. Wind chill values as low as zero. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Saturday Night – A chance of snow and sleet before 1am, then a chance of freezing rain and sleet. Cloudy, with a low around 22. East wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
  • Sunday – A slight chance of sleet before 10am, then a slight chance of freezing rain. Cloudy, with a high near 32. East southeast wind around 5 mph becoming south in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 20%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
  • Sunday Night – Mostly cloudy, with a low around 21. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

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