Thursday, April 24, 2014
Kelly P. Kissel/The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As a the muted ends of a powerful winter storm that has killed more than a dozen people plodded through the Northeast, many in Arkansas were seeking warmth and shelter against the cold prospect of life without electricity into the new year.
An Entergy Arkansas Inc., crew works to restore power to customers on Whittington Avenue near the entrance to Hot Springs National Park, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in Hot Springs, Ark. A Christmas Day storm dumped between 6 to 15 inches of snow knocking out power to about half of the 61,000 customers in Garland County. (AP Photo/The Sentinel-Record, Richard Rasmussen)
A lone cyclist navigates the bike path through a snow storm at Chicago's North Ave. beach Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. A muted version of the deadly winter storm that has killed more than a dozen across the eastern half of the country reached the Northeast on Thursday, limiting most of its wrath to travel headaches as Christmas revelers tried to return home. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A Christmas Day blizzard dumped more than 15 inches of snow on the state, causing massive damage to power lines that have affected more than 200,000 customers.
With the bleak word from the state's largest utility that the lights could be out until after the start of the new year, many residents who awoke snowbound Wednesday morning found themselves jamming the city's hotel rooms by Thursday night.
"I'm coping with hot toddies and peanuts," said Lynda Johnson, who lined up a series of hotel stays through hotels.com to make it at least through Saturday night. She has already been to the movies — she saw "Django Unchained" — and checked in with neighbors multiple times to see if the lights are back on.
Deena Brazell spent a night in her car for warmth, though she hadn't planned it that way.
"Everything in the apartment is electric. I stayed in the apartment the first night. After that, it got cold really quick," she said. "I went out to charge the phone and fell asleep, then I just decided to stay."
After the storm's peak early Wednesday, homes and businesses from border-to-border had lost power. Johnson, and several others, said they were hoping the power would be back on Wednesday after spending Christmas night in the dark. Butut then the president of the state's largest utility announced that some of the outages would persist at least into New Year's Day. Little Rock was among the cities hardest hit.
"We spent the first night at home and turned on the fireplace, but it doesn't give off a lot of heat," said Kathy Garner, who sought refuge at her sister and brother-in-law's house in Maumelle, a Little Rock suburb.
In a typical year, tornadoes bring Arkansas' worst weather, but the damage is isolated and linemen have a relatively easy time fixing the power grid.
This week's storm was epic by comparison, and despite the jokes — "In Wisconsin, we call this Tuesday" — as of Thursday night there was more snow on the ground in Little Rock than Milwaukee.
"You run out of money fast," Johnson said. "The things you had planned to do, you can't do. You need food, clothing and shelter. Since I'm not home, I have to find someplace for shelter. Then you have to find something to eat."
The storm system responsible for the misery roared out of the Rockies early Tuesday with blizzard conditions in southwestern Oklahoma and tornadoes along the Gulf Coast.
After sweeping across Arkansas, giving Little Rock its first white Christmas since 1926, it rolled into the Midwest and Northeast before moving on to Canada. Up to 20 inches of snow fell in the Adirondacks of New York; Indianapolis had 7.5 inches, its greatest snowfall in four years; and 4-6 inches fell in and around Concord, N.H.
"I'm going to be shoveling all day, just trying to keep up with the snow, which is impossible," said Dale Lamprey, clearing the sidewalk outside the legislative office building near the New Hampshire Statehouse.
Nationwide, at least 17 people died because of the ice, snow and wind. Deaths from wind-toppled trees also were reported in Texas and Louisiana, but car crashes caused most of the fatalities.
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With temperatures in the single digits, city parks and recreation employee Greg Pecha floods a hockey rink Wednesday evening, Dec. 26, 2012 at Roosevelt Park in Eau Claire, Wis. Skating rinks in the city are opening a bit later than usual due to above-average temperatures earlier in the month. (AP Photo/Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Steve Kinderman).