Greene Co. Update: Latest in Paragould & Lafe

GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - According to Paragould Light, Water and Cable, 70% of customers have power. Utility crews made progress Sunday, working to restore power to the remaining 30%. A large number of those customers live along Fairview Road in Paragould.

Bill Fischer with PLWC said Sunday his crews are working hard. According to Fischer, 8 utility crews with BBC Electric based out of Joplin, Missouri, are working on electric lines throughout the city. Fischer said 250 utility poles are down in Paragould and some customers could be out of power for 2 weeks. He said 35 poles have been knocked down along Fairview Road, nearly 2 miles of line.

Fischer said his crews are working on distribution lines that feed to secondary lines. Secondary lines then feed into homes. Both types were damaged or destroyed by the ice storm.

Fischer said his utility crews are working on electrical sections most heavily populated. Fischer said progress will be slower as crews begin working on hard to reach sections, such as poles down behind homes and alleys. He also said some homes will have electricity but without cable. However, the Cable Department has been working on the lines. More cable lines have been put out of service than electric lines.

"We're just trying to restore the power from the ice damage and just trying to help out as much as we possibly can to give power back to the people," said Cody Alman.

Alman with BBC Electric said Sunday that the January ice storm was the worst he's experienced. He said the 2 week timeframe for power restoration is on target.

"I'm originally from the area, and I've never seen an ice storm as much as this," said Alman. "Right here, we're replacing all the broken arms, and everything down through here. There's probably 2 to 3 miles down through here that has to be, the poles have to be replaced and arms and so on."

"We're going to try to have half this line on in the next couple of days," said Alman about Fairview Road.


While waiting for the power to be restored, the McClelland family, 5315 Fairview Road, has been trying to stay busy.

"We're cutting trees, doing that kind of stuff trying to make more fire wood," said Jeremy McClelland.

McClelland said he's heard it could be two weeks before his power is restored, but his generator is powering a freezer full of meat. The McClelland's use the BBQ grill to cook food and a wood burning stove to heat their home.

Jeremy said he knew his home was going to be without power for a while, but he didn't expect the storm to be as bad as it was.

"I was kind of afraid it was going to fall on the house, but it didn't so we're lucky there. But I was just hoping that it wouldn't be as bad as it turned out to be though," said McClelland. "It was going to be a while before we had power up and going again."

When asked if he thought utility crews were working hard, McClelland said, "We're having a lot of help from other states coming in here. They're doing everything they can."

McClelland said he and his Brother Jason and father Bob had to move their vehicles from the drive-way of their house because of falling tree limbs.

"We had to move them over here in the neighbors drive way, keep them from getting hit and everything, so yeah, we've definitely had to save a few things," said McClelland.


Residents in Lafe also face a very dire prediction. They have been told it could be 2-3 weeks before they get any power. According to Rev. Curt Dwyer, St. John's Lutheran Church, the city gets its power from hard-hit Craighead Electric Cooperative, a company trying to repair 3,000 or more downed power lines.

"I heard, it'll be as much as 2 or 3 weeks before we get electricity here," said Rev. Dwyer.

Dwyer said Sunday the substation in Marmaduke, which feeds power to Lafe, has been out of commission since Tuesday. That substation is down and several utility poles are down between Marmaduke and Lafe. Before Lafe gets electricity, all poles and the substation must be repaired.

"We had the tornado here in 2006, and the community does pull together, help each other, and we're able to look after each other," said Rev. Dwyer.

St. John's Lutheran Church will be preparing warm meals for the community as long as the need is there.

"We're having new meals every day, hot meals that we are able to prepare because one of our members was able to get a generator that is enough to power our kitchen, and the lights, and the heat. We can prepare a hot meal everyday for members of our community, for the gentlemen who are clearing the lines and hopefully, the electrical workers once they get into town," said Dwyer.

"Yesterday we served about 65 meals, we had about 45 or 50 that came in here and we took 15 or 20 meals around to the community," said Dwyer. "We anticipate doing this for as long as we need to, as long as there are people in the community that need a hot place to come, just to stay warm and have a hot meal."