10 years later: Remembering the 2009 ice storm

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Areawide Media Archive

If you do a quick web search of the 2009 ice storm, you will find it has its own “Wikipedia” page titled, January 2009 North American ice storm. Jan. 27-28 marks the 10th anniversary of the ice storm which left many in the area without power for weeks.

The description you find on Wikipedia reads, “The January 2009 North American ice storm was a major ice storm that impacted parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. The storm produced widespread power outages for over two million people due to heavy ice accumulation. The hardest hit areas were in Western Kentucky with over 500,000 residences without power during the height of the storm, including 100,000 without power for over one week, and northern Arkansas, with 300,000 residences without power. This ice storm killed 65 people nationwide, 35 in Kentucky. Most deaths were attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to power generators or kerosene heaters being used indoors without proper ventilation. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear called up the entire Kentucky Army National Guard to deal with the after effects of this storm, the largest National Guard call up in that state’s history.”

With many still without power, North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, INC. issued a press release approximately one week after the storm hit, to address the power restoration process. “As of 4:00 a.m. this morning, over 21,000 North Arkansas Electric Cooperative members remain without power, down from 34,000 at the peak of the outages. With over 700 additional contract crew members from other states assisting the cooperative, they are still predicting that restoration efforts could take weeks.

Linemen and emergency personnel worked long hours in the cold in 2009 to restore power to homes and businesses in the area.
Areawide Media Archive

‘We are making progress day by day,’ stated Mel Coleman, CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative. ‘We understand the frustration felt by those without power, but our crews are doing the best they can given the amount of damage to the cooperative’s system. We will not quit until every one of our members can flip that switch and have lights’,” said the release.

NAEC had to utilize special equipment to restore power, including a local helicopter service to help assess damage through an aerial point of view.

Luckily, the area hasn’t experienced as severe of a winter storm since but it is still important to prepare for extreme cold temperatures.

Photos of the 2009 ice storm in the Thayer and Mammoth Spring area.
Areawide Media Archive

According to the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), visiting Ready.gov can help you and your family prepare for severe winter weather.

Important Tips to Remember:

Severe winter weather can include snow or subfreezing temperatures, strong winds and ice or heavy rain storms. Avoid traveling by car, but if you must, make sure you have an emergency supply kit in the trunk of your car. Again, FEMA urges families to maintain an emergency supply kit both at home and in the car to help prepare for winter power outages and icy or impassable roads.

Do not put your family at risk. Follow these important safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) in the aftermath of the storm:

Portable Generators

Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner’s manual and follow the instructions. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.

Charcoal Grills and Camp Stoves

Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors. Deaths have occurred when consumers burned charcoal or used camp stoves in enclosed spaces, which produced lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

CO Alarms

Install carbon monoxide alarms immediately outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home to protect against CO poisoning.

Electrical Safety

Stay away from any downed wires, including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage.


Use caution with candles. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.

For more information and winter safety tips, please visit: https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather or www.listo.gov to find out how you can prepare your family for winter storms and other disasters.

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