Arkansans hit hard with power outages, declared state of emergency

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- Tens of thousands of Arkansans will be inthe dark Tuesday night while electric crews work to restore power from thismorning freezing conditions.

Outages became such anissue Tuesday that Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe declared a state of emergencybecause of so many residents without power.

Outages for Entergy Arkansasare hovered around 40,000 Tuesday, and it wants customers to know rising outagesmeans longer wait times. The good news is extra additional help fromsurrounding states is either in the state, or on the way.

As rain and sleet camedown during winter weather, conditions caused wires and power poles to break. Onething that didn't fall was the number of Arkansans without power.

"As you can see justtoday alone we went from single digits to double digits in a couple of hours,"said Julie Munsell with Entergy Arkansas as she showed us an outage map of thestate.

Those maps showed GarlandCounty as an area hit hard with more than 8,000 outages at one time, but otherscounties like Pulaski, Conway, and St. Francis experience more have more than3,000 without power.

Entergy is bringing inextra workers. It reports more than 2,300 assisting working are coming into Arkansasto help get the lights back on.

"Well they're comingfrom several states around us, including Mississippi, Texas Louisiana. We haveboth crews that we do contract to do work with, and we also have some reliefcoming from our sister utilities," Munsell added.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas saidit had an additional 16,000 customers without power Tuesday night.

In Garland County the American Red Cross ofArkansas has opened an emergency shelter at the First United Methodist Churchon Pratt Road in Hot Springs for those residents without electricity.