Plenty of power lines and homes got jumbled around over the weekend when aftershocks of Hurricane Ike came slamming into the Ozarks Sept. 13.
"We've had an interesting weekend," Mel Coleman, CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative said.
The eye of the tropical depression passed over the area late Saturday night according to Coleman. "This was an especially devastating storm system, with the tropical depression (Ike) eye passing over Baxter and Fulton counties. Reported winds were sustained at 30 to 35 mph, with gusts reported around 70 mph, which is just 5 mph short of hurricane force winds," Coleman said.
At the height of the power outages Coleman said there were about 14,000 customers without power in the four-county area of Baxter, Fulton, Izard and Sharp. "Many of our long-time employees have remarked that this storm was one of the worst in terms of timber devastation they have seen, and the most widespread, covering 100 percent of our service territory," Coleman said.
According to Coleman, there were two dozen men who came from other areas of the state to assist with the outages. Coleman said NAEC employees worked overnight to make headway in fixing most of the problems.
"The road crews were out all day yesterday (Sunday) clearing debris out of the roads," Sharp County Judge Joe Brown said. "The crews went out again first thing this morning to work on getting the roads opened up." Brown said some of the roads have so much debris that there is only one lane open for traffic.
Cherokee Village Police Chief Scott Goodwin said the only damage he has had reported so far are trees and power lines down. "There have been no reports of structural damage as far as I know," Goodwin said. "There are still people without power but the power company has reported that power should be restored no later than tomorrow (Sept. 16)," Goodwin continued.
A representative of the National Weather Service said they had reports of the wind being measured at 67 mph at the Izard County Fair Grounds in Melbourne. "If they measured the winds at 67 mph it can be assumed the wind speed exceeded that by about 5 mph during the storm," the NWS representative said.
Century Tel reported outages in phone and Internet services throughout Izard, Fulton and Sharp counties. The company said while they are trying to restore all services, they have been focusing on phone service first due to the importance of having a phone in case of an emergency.
As of Monday morning, there were still 1,700 NAEC customers without power. "With our concentration (Monday) on the hardest hit areas, we are confident most, if not all NAEC customers will be restored today," Coleman said.