Emergency Generators Help Arkansas In Time of Need


NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.–Across the northern half of Arkansas, the storm
that struck the last week of January weighed down electrical lines with a
thick coat of ice. The damage left more than 315,000 electrical customers
without power; thanks to the feverish work of repair crews, that number has
now declined to fewer than 13,500.

The power loss affected not just individuals but also the critical
facilities that are vital to a community’s well-being. Bad as things were,
they would have been much worse without the commercial generators that were
brought in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and delivered
by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), the National
Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to keep essential
services operating.

Thanks to the generators, freezing people could escape to warming and
feeding stations and overnight shelters where the lights and the heat were
working and they could get a cup of coffee and warm food.  If the shelter
had running water and working plumbing, those, too, were due in some places
to generators that were running pumping stations and water treatment and
sewage plants. At the height of the power outages, 155 emergency generators
were installed.

Several hospitals would have had to close entirely if not for the emergency
generators.  Piggott Community Hospital continues to run generator power.
Other facilities where these generators helped assure the provision of vital
emergency services include Jonesboro National Guard Armory, Salvation Army
in Fayetteville, Green Forrest Police and Fire Departments, and the fire
departments in Whitehouse and Alicia.

During disasters, the USACE is assigned to manage FEMA’s emergency
generators. Working with the USACE Power Planning & Response Teams, the
USACE 249th Engineer Battalion assess facilities’ critical power needs.
Where feasible, the USACE contracts with local and regional electrical
contractors to install and, as power is restored, de-install the generators.

FEMA began providing generators to Arkansas as the result of a presidential
emergency disaster declaration for 48 counties that was issued on Jan. 29.
The declaration makes direct federal assistance available on a cost-sharing
basis to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or
to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas. This
assistance is available only to state and eligible local governments and
certain private nonprofit organizations. The declaration does not make
assistance available to individuals.


FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency
management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and
mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation
from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other
man-made disasters.