Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TOP STORY >> Power lines fall, repairs continue

Leader senior staff writer

“Every one of them fell like dominoes,” Dick Bransford said Tuesday of the high-voltage transmission towers down in eight of his fields after Thursday’s storms.

More storms swept across the area Tuesday night, knocking down trees and disrupting power to many homes.

The lines are down for about 11 miles from the Bill Sandage Farm east of Keo on to Carlisle in southern Lonoke County, according to Jeff Welch, Lonoke County Chief Extension agent.

The downed transmission lines and towers will probably impact several thousand acres, Welch said.

Bransford said the old Pettus gin, which shut down three cotton seasons ago, was the staging area for IRBY construction, which is building and raising new towers for Entergy.

The downed lines do not supply electricity—directly, at least—to those living in the area.

Bransford said 50 or 53 towers were down. The old ones are being lifted out by helicopter.

“They said they’d have them back in 14 weeks,” he said. Meanwhile, he’ll have to leave some fields fallow and change planting plans for others.

He had planned cotton, rice and even pumpkins for various fields, but now he’s looking at a later start—a shorter growing season, as large towers and heavy-duty equipment bisect those fields.

“It’s going to be too late to plant rice,” said Welch. If they were going to plant cotton, they’ll probably have to go to soybeans.

Other farmers suffered some hail damage during the storm, he said. The farmers are out checking the damage to their wheat and cornfields. Some may have to be disked under and replanted. “I haven’t heard of farmers who really got hurt on that.”