Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TOP STORY >> Repairing after wind blows by

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

The cleanup process from Friday’s storms is under way.

Uprooted trees that were blocking roads were cut and removed, and power crews worked to restore electricity.

Neal Frizzell, a First Electric Cooperative spokesman, said, “Power had been restored to our customers by 8 o’clock Sunday night.”

Frizzell estimated there were approximately 15,000 people in the area without power shortly after the storms passed.

The city of Cabot’s participation in the CodeRED emergency telephone warning system was put to the test on Friday.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said he received a telephone alert from CodeRED that Cabot was under a severe thunderstorm warning. A minute or so later, he received a second phone call from CodeRED. It was an update that Cabot was placed under a tornado warning.

“For people who did not get the warning, they need to sign up,” Williams said about the importance of the CodeRED alert system during severe weather.

Residents can sign up for CodeRED phone alerts through the city’s Web site at www.cabotar.gov.

Williams said he noticed the diminishment of traffic before the storm. He said a substantial amount of people were warned of the approaching weather.

Power outages were scattered in different parts of the city. Electricity was restored by Saturday night.

The mayor said the city worked with the water department in providing a generator to power the homes of several senior citizens in the Rodney Guthrie Drive area.

Red Lobster and the Olive Garden restaurants brought some meals up to Cabot for those who were without power.

Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson said Saturday that there were no reports of major damage in the city. There were tree limbs brought down from the high winds.

According to Lt. Jim Kulsea of the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office there were three reported injuries related to the storms. One woman suffered a head injury when a tree fell on her car on Apple Hill Road west of Austin. A man received a head injury from the storm in the area of Campground Road and Hwy. 321.

A second man received a head injury when moving a tree on Hwy. 5.

The storm caused one family to lose their barn.

Lois and Uless Sentell, who live on Sentell Road off Lewisburg Road outside Austin, had a cattle barn and a metal building destroyed by the fierce winds. Their house between the buildings only had a broken window. A row of trees near their driveway had the tops snapped off.

Sentell, 97, was working in her squash and okra garden when the storm roared through the property.

“I was making a trench in the garden for the rain water. I saw the clouds swirling and I headed for the house,” Lois Sentell said.

Sentell said she has been living on their property for 75 years and this is the first time a storm has damaged their buildings.