BY LEANN DILBECK –
Electric crews continue working to restore power to hard hit Polk County following a devastating arctic front that delivered an ice storm reminiscent of the Christmas 2000 storm.
Friday morning, 3,800 SWEPCO customers and 5,500 Rich Mountain Electric Cooperatives members had power interrupted due to accumulation of ice on the lines and downed trees and limbs.
Most businesses in Mena were forced to close for most of the day Friday.
Polk County Sheriff Mike Godfrey said his department’s resources were stretched thin and is encouraging residents to eliminate all NON-ESSENTIAL travel.
As is the case when natural disasters hit Polk County, residents sprang into action to help the officials and chainsaws were humming as neighbors began cutting paths down drives and roads.
Shelters have been opened at Dallas Avenue Baptist Church and at First Baptist Church in Cove.
Progress is being made in getting power restored but officials are urging residents to be prepared for a “multi-day outage” as damage is extensive and wide-spread. Here is the most current information as of Friday evening from both SWEPCO and we will post the update from Rich Mountain Electric Cooperatives on this link as soon as it becomes available.
SWEPCO Ice Storm Update
Dec. 6, 2013
The winter storm moving through SWEPCO’s service territory has caused extensive damage due to ice accumulation on trees and power lines.
SWEPCO is making early progress with repairs to main distribution lines. However, we are still in damage assessment mode for many lines and do not have estimated restoration times yet.
At 3 p.m., approximately 9,325 customers were without power. That includes 6,050 in Greenwood, Booneville, Waldron and surrounding communities, and 3,275 in the Mena area.
Customers in the following areas should prepare for the potential of multi-day outage and are urged to take steps to ensure their health and safety while we work to restore service –
Please note that new outages may occur as trees and limbs continue to fall on lines, and temperatures stay below freezing for extended periods.
Approximately 550 line, tree and support personnel from Oklahoma, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas are working in the storm recovery effort. These resources include 340 internal and 210 external resources.
Customers can report outages online or on their mobile devices at www.SWEPCO.com
, or call 1-888-218-3919.
DOWNED LINES – Never touch a downed utility wire, no matter how harmless it looks. It can be difficult to distinguish between a power line and a cable or telephone line. All downed lines should be considered energized and dangerous. And don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences or puddles of water, since they can conduct electricity. Keep children and pets away from this potential hazard. Call SWEPCO to report any downed lines or equipment.
DAMAGE TO CUSTOMER-OWNED FACILITES – If electrical facilities owned by the customer are damaged, it is the customer’s responsibility to have them repaired before SWEPCO can safely restore power. Here’s a quick way to tell which facilities belong to you. The meter itself and the overhead service lines are SWEPCO’ responsibility. But the service entrance cable running down the side of the building – and the box containing the meter – belong to the customer. If you see that these facilities are damaged or pulled away from the building, be extremely careful and call an electrician immediately. Customers need to have a qualified electrician repair this damage before power can be restored to the home or business. If you have any questions, call us 1-888-216-3523.
PORTABLE GENERATORS – Anyone using a portable or RV generator should not plug the generator into the home’s main electrical panel. This can “back feed” electricity into outside utility lines, creating the danger of electrocution for repair crews and the public. Instead, plug essential lighting and appliances directly into the generator.
Rich Mountain Electric Cooperatives
Ice Storm Update – December 6, 2013
Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative experienced approximately 6,000 outages at the peak of the current winter storm. Presently, about 4,500 of Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative members are without power. Rich Mountain Electric linemen have worked throughout the night and day to restore power to those who have been impacted.
According to Leon Philpot, General Manager of Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative “Restoration could be prolonged to 1 to 3 days due to more severe weather forecasted.” 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 the power lines.
According to Philpot, primary lines serving hundreds of customers are serviced first, and then the secondary lines serving fewer members are serviced.
For additional information contact: Leon Philpot, Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative, 479-394-4140 or firstname.lastname@example.org