September 17, 2008 Edition

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Remnants of Ike roar through area

Chuck Dunn began the process of removing this large oak tree on the campus of Walnut Ridge High School Monday. The tree toppled early Sunday morning when the remnants of Hurricane Ike swept through Northeast Arkansas.
TD Photo ~ John Bland
John Bland

Remnants of Hurricane Ike arrived with a roar in Northeast Arkansas during Sunday's pre-dawn hours. While the system brought minimal rain, its winds left havoc with downed trees, branches and foliage as well as power outages over much of Lawrence County, but overall minimal property damage.

The effects of Hurricane Ike began Friday morning, two days earlier, when the valid fear of rising gas prices caused area residents to rush to the pumps to fill their tanks.

On Sunday, neighborhoods in Northeast Arkansas resembled disaster areas, with many lawns covered in leaves, limbs and other debris. Some large, old trees were uprooted with a few falling on, fences, structures or vehicles. Vulnerable younger trees, many of them Bradford pears, were snapped into pieces.

The winds and fallen limbs and trees also resulted in downed power lines and power outages in much of Lawrence County. Crews from Entergy and Craighead Electric began working immediately to remedy safety issues and restore power.

Many Sunday church services were cancelled due to the lack of electricity, while restaurants without power had to remain closed. Keith Brand, president of Regions Bank in Walnut Ridge, reported that the bank was without power until 2 p.m. on Monday. A few other areas remained without power until late Monday or early Tuesday.

Area residents spent much of Sunday cleaning up their own yards or helping others with theirs. On Monday, crews were out in force trimming or removing damaged trees and scooping up piles of limbs along roadsides.

Herb Ginn, county extension agent ~ agriculture, said the rice crop suffered from both downed rice and shattered rice, in which the mature rice heads lose their grains. As of late Tuesday afternoon, Ginn said the Extension Service was still trying to assess the amount of rice damaged or lost as a result of the storm system.

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