Sunday, February 22, 2009

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part XVII): No crime in an ice storm

The past two issues of the Newton County Times have been focused on the ice storm that hit Arkansas and other parts of the mid-South in late January. Stories about the storm and its aftermath feature in both the Jan. 29, 2009 and Feb. 5, 2009 issues. In the former, which went to press on the second day of storm, there is a photo of ice-laden tree branches and the headline, "Winter storm makes travel treacherous." The story reports that the Sheriff's office set up an emergency command center at the jail. The county judge said that while no roads were closed, several roads were blocked by downed power lines and tree limbs. He reported that emergency vehicles were making rounds with the assistance of tire chains. A second front-page article reports a burn ban in effect until further notice and links the ban to the onset of the spring fire season. The fact that several homes in the county have recently burned is not mentioned.

The Feb. 5 paper features the headline, "County recovering from ice storm; fire ban still in effect." It also has front-page photos of the ice storm and a Jasper residence that burned the night the storm began. The story reports that some parts of the county were still without power a week after the storm. Somewhat ironically, the county's command center for responding to the storm had been moved from the jail to the Newton County Nursing Home after a back-up generator failed. To respond to the needs of the many county residents without power, volunteer fire departments that had back-up power were opened to serve as "warming centers." An emergency shelter was also established at the county's Senior Center, though only woman took advantage of it. She was reportedly given a bed at the nursing home.

For more on the storm's consequences in places that reflect various degrees of rurality, read stories here (also about Northwest Arkansas, with a focus on rural power) and here (about Kentucky).

No comments: