A storm for a stormy year

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Senior journalism major Joshua Wiseman expresses his gloom brought on by the latest storm.

Kelly Stiles, Editor in Chief

Category 4 hurricane Laura tore apart homes and businesses in Louisiana and Texas, killing six people in its wake. By the time Laura had traveled to Arkansas on July 27, the hurricane had dwindled to a Category 1 tropical storm, according to KARK news and weather station. The storm failed to cause massive damage compared to other severe weather outbreaks that have taken place in Arkansas this year, but did not leave without impacting the people of Arkadelphia, especially with the ongoing struggle of COVID-19.

 

“On Wednesday when we found out that classes were cancelled, it felt similar to when school let out for COVID,” senior journalism major Joshua Wiseman said.

 

Faculty decided to close on-campus classes and activities on July 27 and 28 to prevent commuting students from braving flooded and hazardous roads. A sudden change in plans is something that Henderson students and faculty, along with most of the United States and even the world, have become accustomed with. Having left in-person classrooms near mid-semester last spring for quarantine from COVID-19, Wiseman relived the helplessness he felt when he could not go back to the school he loved.

 

“It is dreadful to know that at the drop of a hat everything can change,” Wiseman said.

 

In the midst of the storm while staying at his family’s house in Fordyce, Ark., Wiseman felt that the stormy weather was symbolic of his feeling of gloom. Wiseman worried about his girlfriend, senior theatre major Hannah Mims, who dislikes rainstorms. He was nervous of the power going out for several days, believing that a storm from a hurricane must be catastrophic.

 

“Thankfully, no one I know was hurt or had major damage,” Wiseman said.

 

While this storm resulted from the onslaught of hurricane Laura, the severe weather outbreak of April 12 and 13 resulted in far more power outages and property damage in Arkadelphia and surrounding areas. 

 

“This [latest] storm primarily affected the southern part of the state,” lineman for South Central Electric Cooperative in Arkadelphia Albert Cummings said.

 

As a lineman, Cummings aids in providing power to homes in the counties of Clark, Nevada, Pike, Hot Springs, Hempstead, and others nearby. Among these counties, about 1,000 South Central Electric customers lost power during the tropical storm from hurricane Laura, while over 2,000 homes lost power during the storm of April 12 and 13.

 

“I have to travel a lot for my job,” Cummings said. “It helps me stay active.”

 

Linemen often travel to other places that are experiencing an abundance of outages. He has traveled to various states such as Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia.

 

“My job is very dangerous,” Cummings said. “But we take special precautions.”

 

High in the air mending a high voltage wire is common practice for Cummings. He and his colleagues often work in dangerous conditions, such as torrential rain, but never while there is lightning. To prepare for upcoming threatening weather, linemen top off their chainsaws and specialized vehicles with gas so they can arrive without delay when disaster appears.

 

“I like meeting new people,” Cummings said. “I know I am helping people – like the local chicken farmer – continue their life.”