Power crews continue to work to restore electricity as water rises in area rivers

Power crews continue to work to restore electricity as water rises in area rivers
Flooding and storm damage was reported early Saturday in Joiner along I-55 in Mississippi County. (Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Utility crews are continuing to work to restore power to people impacted by storms, as the heavy rains that pummeled the area now fill area rivers.

The strong to severe storms late Friday night into early Saturday morning knocked out power to thousands and flooded several city streets.

Utility crews have been working all weekend to restore power throughout the state and in Region 8. Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued an emergency order Saturday to help assist utility crews in their work.

At 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Entergy Arkansas reported 11,316 customers were without power statewide, including those living in the following Region 8 counties:

  • Crittenden: 125
  • Cross: 10
  • Mississippi: 675
  • St. Francis: 279
  • White: 124
  • Woodruff: 174

The heavy rains have also created minor flooding along several area rivers, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 4 p.m. Sunday, the White River at Newport was at 23.66 feet and is expected to reach 26.5 feet, just above flood stage, by Monday.

The Black River at Pocahontas was at 17.55 feet at 4 p.m. Sunday and was expected to reach 21 feet, nearly four feet above flood stage, by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Also, the Black River at Black Rock was at 22.82 feet at 4 p.m. Sunday, over eight feet above flood stage. It is expected to be at 23 feet Sunday evening and at 26.5 feet by Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service reported.

Heavy rains flooded several Jonesboro city streets, including the intersection at Caraway Road and Race Street.
Heavy rains flooded several Jonesboro city streets, including the intersection at Caraway Road and Race Street. (Source: KAIT-TV)

The storms Friday evening and early Saturday also brought with them heavy downpours that flooded several Jonesboro and Paragould city streets.

Craighead County E-911 Director Jeff Presley said that police blocked off Caraway Road near Race Street due to flooding.

He also said motorists were stranded in the 400-block of West Washington due to flash flooding.

In addition to flooding, several trees were reported down throughout Craighead County, including Highway 351 near County Road 712, blocking all lanes of traffic.

Presley also reported a tree down on Casey Springs Road.

Lake Street in Paragould is CLOSED please avoid the area

Posted by Greene County Office of Emergency Management on Saturday, January 11, 2020

Erik Wright, director of emergency management for Greene County, reported heavy ponding on sections of Highway 412.

Paragould police also shut down Lake Street, he said, due to water over the road.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) said at 3:48 a.m., a section of State Highway 233 was closed due to high water. It has since reopened.

The storms blew over several 18-wheelers on Interstate 40 near Wheatley.
The storms blew over several 18-wheelers on Interstate 40 near Wheatley. (Source: ArDOT)

Other state highways closed in Region 8 include Highway 224 North, between Tuckerman and Swifton; Highway 115 in Lawrence County near Jesup; and Highway 13 in White County near McRae due to flooding or high water, according to iDriveArkansas.com.

A Jackson County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher said the rains did not force the county to close any roads, but that signs would be up to remind people to be cautious as the water, hopefully, goes down.

Strong winds also sent tractor-trailer rigs rolling on Interstate 40 in St. Francis County.

ArDOT reported “several overturned 18-wheelers” near the eastbound 221 exit ramp at Wheatley.

The storms also flipped a semi on I-40, just 5 miles west of West Memphis in Crittenden County, as they pushed eastward toward the Mississippi River.

Storm damage was also reported in Mississippi and St. Francis counties.

Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook said two semi-trucks were blown off I-55 at the 55-mile marker into a nearby median ditch. Crews were able to clean up one of the truck crashes but were still working on the other one.

There was also reports of flooded ditches in the area.

Authorities also responded to a vehicle/pole crash on Highway 61 and Highway 120 around 3 a.m. Saturday, Cook said.

Authorities responded to a vehicle/pole crash on Highway 61 and Highway 120 around 3 a.m. Saturday in Mississippi County.
Authorities responded to a vehicle/pole crash on Highway 61 and Highway 120 around 3 a.m. Saturday in Mississippi County. (Source: Mississippi County Sheriff's Office)

There were also reports of flooding and storm damage in the Joiner area.

In St. Francis County, a roof was blown off the Colt Exxon as well as Mike’s Family Restaurant, county dispatch said.

There were also reports of some roads underwater and utility poles down throughout the county.

Damage was also reported in the Colt area.

Also, there was storm damage at the Wynne Animal Shelter, according to a post on the West Memphis Animal Shelter Facebook page.

Johnny and I are here at the Wynne animal shelter in Wynne, Arkansas. Their animal shelter suffered significant roof damage in last night’s storm.

Posted by West Memphis Animal Shelter on Saturday, January 11, 2020

Got a lot going on from the storm this morning.

Posted by Southern Roofing And Renovations Tri-City on Saturday, January 11, 2020

At 12:10 a.m., the NWS had a tornado watch issued for Cleburne, Independence, Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp, Greene, Craighead, Clay, Poinsett, Cross, St. Francis, Crittenden, Mississippi, Dunklin, Pemiscot, White, and Woodruff counties in Arkansas and Howell and Oregon counties in Missouri until 2 a.m.

A tornado warning was also issued for Baxter and Fulton counties until 10:45 p.m. Friday and Howell County until 11 p.m. Friday, but both were later canceled, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Zach Holder says the storms, which are expected to move in near midnight, could bring damaging wind gusts and isolated spin-up tornadoes through Saturday morning.

It’s important to take any type of warning seriously as straight-line winds can do just as much damage as tornadoes.

The storms are also expected to dump anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of rain, with some areas seeing higher amounts.

Flash flood watches have already been issued for all of Region 8.

The Newport Police Department said in a Facebook post that a safe room on Pecan Street will be open Friday afternoon and Friday night for people.

The Harrisburg Police Department said in a Facebook post that a safe room at the Middle School Library will be open at 12 a.m. Saturday morning for people to use.

Alert! Alert! Alert! Attention all Residents Due to the High Threat of Severe Weather the Safe Room located in the...

Posted by Harrisburg Police Department on Friday, January 10, 2020

Also, the Lepanto Police Department said in a Facebook post that the storm shelter behind the high school and elementary school would be open Friday. An officer was out all night watching the storms and shelters.

Storm shelters behind high school and at elementary will be open. A officer will be out all night watching the storms and shelters

Posted by Lepanto Police Department on Friday, January 10, 2020

The safe room at Weiner Elementary will also be open, Weiner firefighters said in a Facebook post.

The safe room at Weiner Elementary will be open if the need arises.

Posted by Weiner Volunteer Fire & Rescue Dept. on Friday, January 10, 2020

If your town does open a shelter, let us know at KAIT-TV and we will pass it along.

Power and utility companies are preparing for the storms as well.

Jonesboro CWL

Engineers at City Water and Light say they’ve been monitoring the weather all week and are aware of the severe weather possibility.

“The rain is not a big issue for us as much as wind," Engineer Chance Smith says. "We’ve been putting in steel poles on our transmission system. We’ve had a system, where every year, we try to upgrade a section of line with steel poles for stronger wind capabilities.”

Around 300 steel poles installed over the past few years helps keep the lights on in Jonesboro.

They do encourage customers to call with any problems or outages at 870-930-3300.

Entergy Arkansas

Entergy Arkansas told Region 8 News that it is monitoring the weather closely.

“We remain storm-ready 24/7, but take additional steps when we know severe weather is in the forecast,” Matt Faries, customer service manager for Entergy Arkansas said. “We have put employees on standby to begin restoration work as soon as it is safe to do so... We practice storm response on clear days, and we have a great deal of practice in real storms. As always, we hope for the best and plan for the worst.”

Entergy Arkansas provided the following tips for those preparing for the storms:

  • Locate flashlights, charge phones and tablets.
  • Download Entergy’s app for your smartphone at entergy.com/app or visit entergystormcenter.com to stay informed on our restoration progress.
  • Sign up for text alerts. From your cellphone, text R-E-G to 368374, or visit entergytext.com
  • If you lose power, contact Entergy at 800-9OUTAGE (800-968-8243).

North Arkansas Electric posted on its website that the utility had roughly 2,000 people without power as of 11 p.m. Friday, with most of the customers in the Salem area.

Storm Anxiety

According to the National Weather Service, there are several tips that people can use in dealing with storm anxiety.

They include:

* advance preparation, knowing where you will go for shelter and getting information and having a plan for you and your family.

* thinking about what stresses you the most about storms and severe weather, including thunder, lightning and heavy winds.

* learning about storms and weather, including the difference between a watch, warning and an advisory.

* visiting your local National Weather Service office.

* having a tornado safety plan for your family and pets, including putting together a safety kit.

* make sure you have at least three different ways to get information about a warning including television, weather radio, phone apps and sirens.

* learn about sirens, warning systems and how they work.

* learn about the geography in your area including cities, counties, streets and highways to know if a storm may be approaching.

Being Prepared

Be sure to stay with the Region 8 Weather app as the system moves through. Also, make sure you have notifications turned on. We will send customized weather alerts for your locations throughout the day and night.

One of the best ways to be aware of the weather is to follow the Region 8 StormTEAM:

- Watch the latest forecasts on KAIT-TV at 4:30-7 a.m., Midday at 11 a.m., News at 5, 6, and 10 p.m. on KAIT-ABC & KAIT-NBC. Newscasts are available over the air, on cable & satellite where available, on kait8.com, on the Region 8 News mobile app for smartphones and tablets (to install or update the news app search KAIT in your mobile marketplace).

- Follow the Region 8 StormTEAM on social media:

FACEBOOK:

TWITTER:

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