Utility Workers on Ready for Storm Damage - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Melissa Simas Reports

Utility Workers on Ready for Storm Damage

October 3, 2002
Posted at: 6:00 p.m. CDT

HOXIE, Ark. -- Utility workers from Arkansas are already in place to help repair damage inflicted by the former Hurricane Lili. However, the Entergy company has kept some of their workers behind to keep Northeast Arkansas safe, should remnants of Lili affect Region 8.

Linemen, support personnel and tree trimming contractors were dispatched Wednesday to Shreveport, Louisiana. Their Louisiana colleagues made two trips to Arkansas in 2000 after parts of the state were crippled with two severe ice storms.

According to a spokesperson from Entergy, over 470 restoration workers from the north and central parts of the state have already been sent to Shreveport and El Dorado to assist with storm damage. But so far, only a few workers from Region 8 have made the trip down south.

"We've departed about 8 so far, they left yesterday morning," said David Burnette of Entergy. "They went down to more of the fringe storm areas, to wait to be deployed in more of the areas of need."

In addition to workers being sent down to Louisiana, a few of trucks have also made the journey. The current plan is to additional workers will be sent down for the aftermath of the storm, but only if we're not badly affected by the storm right here in Arkansas.

"We're geared up to send more if necessary, right now we're holding some of our forces back so to speak, until the forces of the storm have come through," Burnette said.

The overnight forecast for Thursday called for high winds in Northeast Arkansas. It's for that reason Burnette wants his workers on hand; it's a policy they follow at the company.

"This is just part of our emergency restoration plan that we have in place," said Burnette.

If storm damage is minimal in Northeast Arkansas, however, then a second wave of workers from Arkansas will be sent to Louisiana. But Burnette stresses Region 8 is their number one concern.

"Entergy would never desert its customers," Burnette said. "We have a workforce in place to take care of that."

The earliest possible decision to move additional workers from Northeast Arkansas to Louisiana will happen Friday morning. In the mean time, Entergy advises residents to call its toll-free number at 800-4-OUTAGE should they experience any power outages.

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