Reinforcements Called to Fight Electric Battle

December 5, 2002
Posted at: 9:00 p.m.

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Energy crews from across Arkansas and the Mid-South are working around the clock to get all of the power restored to residents in Region 8.

On Thursday, there was still an estimated 4,000 people in seven counties across Northeast Arkansas that were without power in what representatives of Craighead Electric called some of the worst damage to powerlines in years. The damage, said to be worse than damage inflictd by some tornadoes, may not be repaired for at least another three days.

An army of energy trucks charged their way into Egypt trying to break through the ice to restore power. The men working in western Craighead County are reinforcements called in from Cabot, just north of Little Rock.

"We got the call last night to come to Jonesboro for Craighead Electric and we really don't know what we've got up ahead of us," said Kenneth Evans.

That was the story all across Region 8 on Thursday. Crews don't know what lies ahead, but they'll be pulling 16-hour shifts until the job is done.

"We're still in a rough situation," Craighead Electric's Becky Carter said. "We still have hundreds, hundreds of broken poles. It's going to be like rebuilding new systems in some areas."

Carter said it could be days before some areas are up and running. But without the help of energy crews from around the state, it would be a much more daunting task.

"We have 17 electric cooperatives in the state, and we all help eachother out when there's a need," she said. "They help us out when we're without electricty around home and we help them out."

More than a 150 men were out working on powerlines, and area residents say they were happy to see them come. Egypt resident Larry Colburn said that: "This is all over the country, we're lucky for them to be here first."

"I'm glad of it, it's nice to have electric," Gary Simmons said. "I like movies and, without a TV, it's pretty dull around here."

Craighead Electric said that as temperatures rise, and ice begins to thaw, residents could suffer even more power outages from weighed down trees breaking off and then snapping power lines.