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Reyno looking for answers as power surges cost residents thousands

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 7:55 PM EDT
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REYNO, Ark. (KAIT) - Reyno has had three power surges in 18 months. The first, we told you about in January 2020. The second came just months later in August. Then the most recent in May 2021.

City officials said over 90 percent of the town has been impacted by the surges, with several homes and appliances damaged and costing some residents thousands.

Entergy, the supplier for the town, said the cause of the surges remains under investigation, but residents hope the problem is fixed soon.

“We have got to where every time a big wind blows up, we run and flip the main breaker to keep from losing stuff,” Jed Daniels, lead pastor at Reyno Old Free Will Baptist Church, said.

Daniels’ church is one of the few in that part of Randolph County. He said the church lost a lot of appliances after the surges.

“We’ve lost stoves, refrigerators, deep freezers, smaller appliances, deep fryers, things like that at the parsonage alone,” Daniels said. “Here at the church, we’ve lost every one of our heating and air units at least once, most of them we’ve lost twice.”

The church had to meet with no air conditioning, but the worst part, Daniels said the damages has equated to nearly $50,000.

He’s seen damages to homes and even houses that have burned down, as has Mayor Vicki Edington, who said she hasn’t received a clear answer from Entergy.

“We were instructed to file claims with them,” Edington said, regarding what the company told them after the first two incidents. “Basically, we were told that their equipment worked as it was designed, it was no fault of Entergy’s that this all happened.”

Edington said some residents are still out on their deductibles, and she said some people who were impacted did not have insurance.

“Right now, safety is the most important thing that we’re looking for,” Edington said. “We can’t be assured that because they haven’t given any answers to why it’s happened.”

Entergy said the cause of the surges is still under investigation, adding that they are working on solutions, upgrading power lines and wires while replacing polls.

“We’re also replacing about 90 percent of the polls and hardware,” Brandi Hinkle with Entergy said. “It’s an expensive job that we are investing in Reyno so that we can provide our customers with more reliable energy, and that’s our goal.”

Hinkle said they plan on replacing 100 poles, and so far, they’ve replaced 20.

Dozens of residents have also filed claims with Entergy, according to Edington and Hinkle.

“We are following Public Service Commission policies when it comes to claims and what we are able to reimburse,” Hinkle said. “That is generally, of course, the value of appliances and other things at this point, and not necessarily replacement value.”

“This area should have been upgraded way before now,” Edington said. “We just want to be ensured that we’re going to have safe, adequate, and reliable service from them.”

Entergy said short-term repairs will be finished in August, but they plan on working on long-term solutions over the next year, including working from Datto to Biggers, moving some high-service lines to be sure they aren’t touching, causing problems if they come in contact.

Hinkle said Entergy is processing claims from the May surges, and are reviewing claims from the 2020 storms. She encourages anyone who had damages as a result of the surges to file a claim on Entergy’s website.

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