A quick scan of the morning news:
* NO GIFT WRAPPING OF TREE DEBRIS NECESSARY: Happily, the city of Little Rock has announced it will waive its customary tight rules for yard waste. Tree debris of any size can be placed at the curb and crews will work to pick them up over time. Debris pickup starts today.
* NOW ABOUT THE TRASH: The mountain of Christmas- and storm-related trash will exceed green monster capacity in many cases both because of the seasonal load and absence of normal pickups. Will the city also pick up bagged overflow, in a departure from customary rules? I'll test it.
*ENTERGY: BETTER LATER THAN NEVER: Entergy will open a center at 900 Louisiana at 10 a.m. today for the customers, somewhere near 100,000, still without power after the Christmas Day storm. The company also has announced that more repair workers are arriving in Arkansas today. The lights started going out 3.5 days ago. Still waiting to be added to the Entergy news release list. Maybe when the weather improves. A testy reader wonders if Entergy president Hugh McDonald suffered any power outage or maybe benefits from underground power service. (Note: My street has underground power service. But we went dark for 24 hours because of interruptions elsewhere.) INSTANT UPDATE: A reader reports that McDonald, a Chenal Valley resident, did experience a power interruption of undetermined length. And INSTANT COMMENTARY FROM ANOTHER READER:
I want to put Hugh McDonald into a walk-in freezer with a few blankets, a flashlight, leftover Christmas dinner and a phone that calls only one number, where he is put on hold because his call is important to us. Periodically someone will answer the phone and tell him crews are working diligently to get him out of the cold, dark, maddening freezer within the next few hours or seven days.
* OFFICIAL BUSINESS: Public agencies nominally opened yesterday, but it was sometimes hard to tell. Skeleton crew at state Capitol. A tiny band at the Pulaski County courthouse. And a Northeast Arkansas reader complains about U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. Hoping to pass along encouragement on the "fiscal cliff" debate, our reader was frustrated:
I called his District Offices in Jonesboro, Cabot and Mountain Home today and got a recording stating they were closed for the holidays and would re-open on January 2, 2013. When I called his DC Office, I got a recording stating the office was closed and that I could not
eave a message because the voice mailbox was full.
I then tried to send Congressman Crawford an email from his website regarding the upcoming vote on the fiscal cliff. When I hit the "Submit" button, nothing happened. I tried to do that with both my laptop and my IPhone, and nothing happened each time.
It sounds to me like he's out of touch, at least least with this First District Voter!
ALSO: On the jump, another report from the city of LR on various city services
CITY NEWS RELEASE
The City of Little Rock is providing the following information in response to the recent ice storm. City staff continues to work around the clock to address all of the issue caused by this storm and will continue to do so until the City returns to normal.
Entergy reports that several additional circuits were lost Thursday evening, causing the number of meters without power to increase. As of 12:00 PM on Friday (12/28), 58,834 meters were without power in the Little Rock area.
Entergy staff reports that there are 258 people on the ground scouting areas to determine what needs to be done to restore power. Currently the assessment is 100% complete on the circuits and 50% complete on laterals; Entergy’s goal is to increase that number to 75% by Friday evening.
On Saturday, December 29, 2012, at 10:00 AM, Entergy will open a Customer Information Center at 900 Louisiana Street. Entergy Staff will be on hand to visit with individuals that have been, and continue to be affected by power outages. The center will remain open until Monday (12/31) or Tuesday (1/1).
Individuals should call 1-800-9OUTAGE to report any downed power lines.
City staff reports that the main streets are clear and staff is now focusing on clearing residential streets. Salt crews will continue to salt streets that have an accumulation of ice and snow and as the temperatures warms, crews will move to the day shift to assist with the removal of trees, limbs & brush. Staff is aware of at least 200 locations with limbs and trees in the right-of-way.
If residents have storm debris in their yard and can move it to the curb, Public Works will waive any requirements that the limbs be a certain length or width. City staff will pick up and remove all storm debris beginning on Saturday (12/29), and will continue to do so until all storm debris has been removed. This will take several weeks.
The City’s solid waste crews report that Tuesday & Wednesday routes were collected on Thursday (12/27); however, only about 20% of the individuals on those routes placed their carts at the curb. On Friday, (12/28), Thursday routes were collected and once they were completed, staff returned to re-run the Tuesday and Wednesday routes. On Saturday (12/29), the Friday routes will be collected, and once again upon completion, staff will re-run the Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday routes to ensure that all garbage has been collected Staff reports that there are several North-sloping streets with large amounts of shade that they have not been able to access and that any streets with wires in the road or low-hanging limbs are skipped and placed on a list for pick-up when conditions improve. As of Friday (12/28), there were thirty-two (32) trucks in operation.
Today (12/28), Waste Management began collecting the Thursday recycling routes and if they complete the route, they will look at going back at picking up the Tuesday and Wednesday Routes.
The Little Rock Fire Department reports that the generator at Station Number 20 is now operational and staff has returned to the station.
The Little Rock Police Department reports that all shifts are fully operational and that the city is being served as it would under normal conditions.
The City’s Planning Department will waive the cost of reconnection fees and inspection fees for any meters that were damaged due to the ice storm. Staff reports that a Master Electrician needs to obtain the permit on behalf of the individual needing the work completed.
The City has dedicated the Southwest Community Center, located at 6401 Baseline Road, as a warming center. It will be in operation today (12/27) from 2:00 PM — 6:00 PM and from 10:00 AM — 6:00 PM. The Center will operate through January 1, 2013, or until it has been determined that a majority of the City's power has been restored.
In addition, the City has dedicated the Dunbar Community Center, located at 1001 West 16th, as a warming center and overnight shelter. It will be equipped with cots, food and essentials. Individuals are encouraged to bring their own bedding, cell phone chargers, snacks, entertainment, etc. This Center will also operate through January 1, 2013, or until it has been determined that a majority of the City's power has been restored.
Upon individual assessment of need, the Little Rock Fire Department will provide transportation for the elderly and disabled to the shelter or other locations for shelter.