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How Entergy Arkansas built back better after devastating tornado


Reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the March 31 tornado

March 31, 2023, is a date that will forever be marked in Arkansas severe weather history. On this date, the Little Rock, Jacksonville and Wynne areas were ravaged by deadly tornadoes that left a path of destruction in its wake and required complete rebuilding of people’s lives and the community.

As we mark the one-year anniversary of this tragic event, it's a time to reflect on the challenges faced but also on stories of resilience and rebuilding. Among these stories is Entergy Arkansas’ commitment to not just restore power but to build back better, ensuring greater resilience for the community today and in the future.

The Impact:

The EF3 tornado that ripped through our community was a force of nature that spared little in its

path. With winds reaching speeds of up to 165 mph, it tore through neighborhoods, schools, worship centers and other familiar places toppling power lines and leaving thousands without electricity as parts of the electric grid were destroyed. More than 1,500 utility poles, 435 transformers and nearly 2,000 spans of wire were damaged or destroyed due to the tornado.

The destruction was swift and widespread as it uprooted trees, destroyed homes and shattered lives, leaving many residents homeless and businesses in ruins. The aftermath was a scene of chaos and despair, as families sifted through debris searching for belongings and emergency responders worked tirelessly to provide aid and support.

Immediate Response:

In the face of such devastation, our community banded together with unwavering determination to rebuild and recover. In the days following the tornado, volunteers from near and far descended upon these areas, offering their assistance and support.

Local government agencies, nonprofits and community organizations worked tirelessly to provide resources to those affected by the tornado. From emergency housing and financial aid to counseling services and debris removal, the outpouring of support was truly remarkable.

Entergy Arkansas mobilized its resources swiftly and decisively to help restore power to the community. Despite facing immense challenges, including blocked roads and hazardous conditions, crews worked around the clock to assess damage and restore power to affected areas.

Within 48 hours of the storm, Entergy Arkansas had restored service to 90% of its customers that could take service, and every school, daycare or church supplying services to the needy was able to open their doors. Everyone from customer service to power delivery teams, logistics and communications, supply chain and telecom and many others put customers and communities first.

Together, our focus was to bring a sense of normalcy back to our community amid chaos and uncertainty. 

Building Back Better:

Entergy Arkansas didn't stop at merely restoring power. The company has always recognized the need to prepare for future disasters and continued its mission to build back better and strengthen our community's resilience. This involved implementing innovative technologies, enhancing infrastructure and adopting best practices to mitigate the impact of future storms.

Crews rebuilt the electric system with upgraded wire, thicker and stronger wooden poles, and concrete poles in some areas, to harden system infrastructure and to make it more resilient. They also implemented the design change to vertically constructed framing.

Not only is vertical construction less expensive to build than horizontal framing, but it also involves less parts, creating less points of failure. It is easier for crews to construct and maintain vertical framing on the roadside of the structure and requires less room on the customers’ property for right-of-way. And when a storm hits, vertical framing is more resilient against mechanical damage as vegetation sheds limbs and debris, which allows for faster restoration time.

Several storms have impacted the same area since the tornado and the benefit of these upgrades are evident. This year, these areas have seen minimal outages from the ice storms in January and high winds in March. The damage sustained to the new section of line was easier to repair and required less work.

Specific benefits from the vertical framing were evident as crews were able to replace smaller components instead of entire poles. These minimal interruptions for customers help them have one less worry at a time when weather threatens.

In addition to technical efforts, Entergy Arkansas actively engaged with the community to promote awareness and preparedness for future emergencies. The company has conducted outreach programs to educate residents and municipalities on safety measures and emergency response protocols. By fostering collaboration and communication, the company has empowered individuals and neighborhoods to better withstand and recover from disasters.


As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado, stories of hope and rebuilding emerges, and Entergy Arkansas reaffirms our commitment to supporting our communities and to always build back better.

Success in our business is when customers never have to think about their power. Being taken for granted is the highest compliment we can possibly get. It takes the coordination of thousands of people, in multiple locations, working in unison around the clock – all to help minimize the effects for the communities we proudly serve.

Our weather today is more extreme than ever and sometimes, even our best planning and execution cannot compete with the strength and unpredictability of Mother Nature. But more times than not, Entergy Arkansas employees have weathered some of the most difficult conditions to keep the lights on for customers when they need it most. The improvements Entergy Arkansas has made to the electric grid in these areas and across the state will help achieve this goal.

As we look to the future, let us continue to learn from this experience and strive for greater preparedness, collaboration and resilience. Together, we can overcome any challenge and emerge stronger than before.

Matt Ramsey
Senior Communications Specialist