BY LEANN DILBECK –
Giving us the thumbs up, this lineman has made yet another restoration of electrical power following a powerful ice storm that interrupted service to almost 10,000 residents in Polk County. He was one of many who have braved nature’s elements around the clock since Thursday night to restore electrical service to the residents and businesses of Polk County.
Both SWEPCO and Rich Mountain Electric Cooperatives were well prepared with additional linemen and timber cutters on stand-by as the storm moved into the area on Thursday night. The parking lot of Bearcat Stadium was used as one of the staging areas as many out-of-town crews came to assist Polk County.
SWEPCO reported on Sunday afternoon that power had been restored to 95% of its customers in Polk County with only 58 remaining without power.
Rich Mountain Electric reported that they continue working to restore power and expect to have all of its members restored by Wednesday, December 11. “We certainly appreciate everyone’s patience as our crews continue working to make these repairs,” said RMEC Manager/CEO Leon Philpot.
James Reeves, Office of Emergency Management Manager, urged those who still remain in need to call his office at 479-394-8141 for assistance. “Shelter is still available at Dallas Avenue Baptist Church for those needing a warm place to stay the night. We are working with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and Mennonite Disaster to come on Monday and stay a week for assisting those that need trees and debris removed. Please call our office for assistance.”
Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison said that his road department has been working since Thursday night cutting paths on roads. “Most county roads are passable and cleared of debris but we still encourage people to call our office or dispatch to tell us if they are trapped,” said Ellison. He also encouraged those in need to call the OES office with requests for assistance as volunteer chainsaw crews are coming to Polk County to help with clean-up.
No estimates are available at this time as officials continue assessing the widespread damage from fallen timber. Electrical lines were not the only victims of the downed trees as many residents suffered damage to their homes and cars as well.
Lines of cars were seen daily at area gas stations as residents scrambled to get fuel for cars, generators, and chainsaws. Gas stations have experienced outages as their supply was unable to keep up with the demand.
The storm forced the closure of area schools on Friday and again on Monday and many area children are using the opportunity to enjoy the winter precipitation in the form of sledding!