Electric companies still cleaning after the ice storm

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - Now that temperatures are reaching 90 degrees most of us aren't thinking about January's ice storm, but for some in Region 8 there is a daily reminder. 

"We still have a mess to cleanup," said Craighead Electric Cooperative President and CEO Brian Duncan.

Downed poles are a big part of the cleanup that some electric companies are still working on.

"We've gone through ice storms before.  We had one in 2002 that we had 1,500 poles broken.  I remember how hard it was to go back and pick up and cleanup," said Duncan.

In 2002 it took eleven days with one hundred extra workers to get back on line, this year it took 25 days and just under one thousand people.

"Ice is amazing and people don't understand how much it weighs.  When you throw it on a piece of power line with the wind blowing on it, something's going to give," said Craighead Electric Supervisor of Construction Mark Miller.

"We had over 8,000 poles broken and those poles are still lying in ditches and on the side of the road," said Duncan.

All of the broken poles are replaced and in many cases the broken pole is laying right next to where a new pole is in the ground.  They expect to have the work finished by the end of June or the first of July, but the big picture will take much longer.

"We will go pole to pole looking at damage that's due to the storm and that's going to take about 18 months," said Duncan.

At Paragould Light Water and Cable the cleanup is finished but they are still working on setting poles and checking cables.  At City Water and Light they are about 97% finished with cleanup.  Work for Clay County Electric is about 98% complete.

The total cost of the storm for Craighead Electric is $43 million.  Duncan says FEMA will pay 75% of the cost and the state will pay 12½% of the cost.

He said they don't expect to file anything with the Arkansas Public Works Commission or raise rates to help pay any of the cost.

©2009 KAIT

 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.