(Mississippi County, AR) Power has been restored to almost everyone in Arkansas after an ice storm left thousands without electricity.
Some were in the dark for five days while utility crews made repairs.
In a little Mississippi County town called Birdsong, the ice storm left the community without a vital link to the outside world.
But things are getting back to normal and one man in Birdsong is happier than most that the power is back on.
“It’s cold out here,” said Earnest Johnson.
Monday morning, Johnson was focused on one thing as he walked up Arkansas Highway 308.
“I’m going home,” said Johnson.
But this time, his home in Birdsong is toasty, the complete opposite from Friday when we first met Johnson.
We saw him crouched in his backyard by a fire he’d built to cook on and to stay warm by.
There had been no heat in his home for five days, but thankfully that changed Friday evening.
“I ain’t cold now. I got my heat on now,” said Johnson.
In fact everyone in Birdsong finally has electricity after being knocked off the power grid by an ice storm that hit Super Bowl Sunday night.
Birdsong Councilman Evans Johnson said more than one ice storm dealt the small town a crippling blow.
“Wooo…It was kind of like being out in the middle of the desert with no communications, where there is no services,” said Johnson.
Nowhere did the blackout have a bigger impact than at the Birdsong Community Connect Center.
Built two years ago through a USDA grant, the Center has ten computers available, at no charge.
Councilwoman Faye Martin said the Connect Center was built as part of President Obama’s goal to use Wi-Fi to connect rural America with the rest of the world.
And up until the ice storm, it was doing just that for people in Birdsong and surrounding communities.
“Some of them get online for classes and some of them might come in here and chat with their friends and their families,” said Councilwoman Martin.
When the ice storm knocked out the electricity, no one could use the computers for a week and people couldn’t get weather updates or reach friends.
Faye Martin, who manages the Connect Center, says the facility is a gem in a community that now has less than forty residents, but clearly depends on what the internet can provide.
“I am very proud of it. A lot of people come in and they can’t believe Birdsong got a lab. And I’m just proud of it,” said Councilwoman Faye Martin.
Right now the Birdsong Community Connect Center provides Wi-Fi service within a 12-mile range, but we’re told more transmission towers are going to be built in the near future because the Connect Center is so popular.