The Entergy Arkansas storm team is finalizing its storm preparations to respond to any impacts across Arkansas from Hurricane Laura, predicted to strike near the Texas/Louisiana border by Thursday, Aug. 27, as a Category 4 hurricane, according to a news release.


Forecasts indicate Laura will impact southern Arkansas on Thursday beginning as early as noon and pushing further north and east into the state throughout the day, possibly causing power outages from tropical storm-force winds, tornadoes, thunderstorms, heavy rain and flash flooding, which could lead to days-long outages.


“We are using these final hours ahead of the storm to patrol our system for service risks and ensure we have the necessary resources, equipment, and workforce to restore power as safely and quickly as possible,” said Laura Landreaux, Entergy Arkansas president and chief executive officer. “We understand the hardships an extended power outage can cause for our customers, especially during the heat of an Arkansas summer with so many working from home and remote learning for children.”


The company is working to amass a workforce of nearly 1,200 restoration workers to respond to possible impacts.


“We understand, and we are making sure we are well prepared to respond. Our team will be hard at work to repair storm damage and bring customers the best information we have as quickly as possible.”


Entergy Arkansas has reciprocal agreements with other utilities through which they help one another out after major weather events. Workers will be staged in strategic locations to respond to outages after the storm has passed. Crews will focus on restoring emergency services first, then will prioritize work according to which repairs will restore power to the greatest number of customers.


“While the hardest-hit locations are likely to be in the southern part of Arkansas, crews will be ready to respond across the state as necessary as soon as it is safe to do so,” Landreaux said.


Staging sites will likely be set up in El Dorado, Magnolia and Warren to provide materials and supplies to restoration workers. In addition, workers are planning logistics such as food and lodging for traveling workers. Vegetation crews will be scouting key circuits for threats from wind-blown trees.


Additional safety precautions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 could affect the time it takes to assess damage and restore power.


Entergy Arkansas employees are navigating through the pandemic by taking precautions including traveling separately when possible, wearing masks when necessary and generally following CDC guidelines, all of which can add to the time required to complete work. The company requests that customers keep their distance from workers in the field, for both safety and health reasons.


Customers can stay informed throughout the Entergy response through several resources including the storm center website at https://www.entergynewsroom.com/storm-center.