Arkansans won't be dreaming of a white Christmas anytime soon. This year, Mother Nature served up a powerful reminder that she is unpredictable and doesn't take holidays off.
The storm of 2012 arrived like the right hand delivered by Juan Manuel Marquez. That shot left champion Manny Pacquiao in la-la land. The Christmas day storm had the same effect on Arkansas' biggest power provider. Hopefully Entergy isn't down for the count.
The biggest X-factor was the ice. Most pre-storm forecasts had North Arkansas as the area of greatest concern. I don't think anyone saw that one-two punch of freezing rain followed by 7 or 8 inches of snow hitting Central Arkansas. It turned out to be a crippling combination that left Entergy scrambling to assemble the resources needed to deal with the most devastating winter storm in 12 years.
The storm numbers are impressive , close to 200,000 customers lost power and a small army of around 5,000 workers descended on Arkansas to restore our power.
What you won't see in the final reports are the countless examples of family and friends who opened their hearts and homes to those left without power. Each night during the storm, I perused Facebook and ran across several stories of kindness. The Sullivans, including our three dogs, ended up at my oldest daughter's apartment. We got treated like royalty.
I was also impressed, but not surprised ,with the way Arkansans treated those who came to the state to help Entergy deal with the damage caused by this devastating storm. The decision-makers certainly made mistakes, but the men and women who restored our power worked endless hours in frigid conditions, all so that people they'd never met could return to warm, bright houses.
Most who lost power ended up spending some time without the comforts of electricity. No TV !! No Internet !!!Hello, Jenga !!! I watched my daughter and her boyfriend square off an epic battle of Jenga which ended with a frustrated loser spilling most of the blocks onto the table. Fun times !!! Board games are fun for a short time... but after several days without power they feel more like BORED games. No offense to Milton Bradley.
Entergy has built a reputation as a great community partner who provides solid service. But they must remember that they , like most sports teams and athletes, have to be at their best during the big events. When most talk about Entergy in the months ahead, their performance during the storm of 2012 will certainly come up. Some people will not have nice things to say, and you can't blame them.
We can only hope they will learn from the storm of 2012. Otherwise we will all suffer the consequences together. Were they fully prepared ? Are there issues with the infrastructure ? Did they dispense information in a timely, honest manner ? There are lots of questions Entergy will have to address in the coming months. The customers who have helped make them a multi-billion dollar company deserve answers. I hope we demand them.
I hope when Entergy decides what went wrong they talk to some of the tens of thousands of Arkansans who sat by small fires in cold, dark houses with nothing to do but shiver and wait until morning came. I'm sure all of us hope that tomorrow is a brighter day for Entergy.
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