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Arkansas Guard Supplies Generators to Ice-stricken School District

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
Special to American Forces Press Service

PIGGOTT, Ark., Feb. 12, 2009 – Generators from the Arkansas Air National Guard have enabled the school district here to resume classes after an 11-day break.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Arkansas Army Guard members prepare a convoy of generators Feb. 9, 2009, in Fort Smith for a trip across the state to Piggott, Ark. The generators were used to provide power to a school district so it could resume classes. An ice storm swept through northeast Arkansas Jan. 26, causing major power outages. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Durney

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Classes were cancelled after an ice storm swept through northeastern Arkansas Jan. 26. About 500,000 state residents lost power as a result.

Arkansas Guard officials said 13 generators were brought in Feb. 9 from the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith, on the other side of the state, and hooked up later that day.

The generators were accompanied by 15 unit members, and were set up at both the high school and elementary school campuses.

"These guys came in and did a professional job, and we appreciate them so much," Ed Winberry, the school superintendent, told the Piggott Times. "They left two technicians with us to keep things running smoothly."

He added that only 31 students were absent from classes in an area where power has not returned for many residents.

"Do what you need to do. We'll have school, and if you can't get them here, we understand," Winberry told the parents of absent students.

In addition to power generation, about 150 Arkansas Guard members remain on state active duty to distribute blankets and cots and provide shelter, shower and laundry facilities.

(Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

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