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Tens of thousands still without power in Arkansas

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm •  Published: December 28, 2012

The storm system, which worked its way east after Christmas, has been blamed for at least 16 deaths. The National Weather Service said Friday that the storm spawned more than a dozen tornadoes in southern Alabama.

The Arkansas outages are hurting area businesses, said Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jay Chesshir. People are taking care of their homes and trying to stay warm, not going out shopping — not that they could at closed businesses, he said.

"This time of year with folks ... looking for retail opportunities during a time of year when many things go on sale, it will be difficult to make up completely but it certainly can be lessened when the power returns and people are in the mood to buy," Chesshir said.

He noted that places that sell perishable goods, such as grocery stores, have had to throw away a tremendous amount of stock.

But Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Director Richard Weiss said he expects no overall impact to state tax revenues, even though the storm hit during a busy shopping season.

"People are going to go out and redeem their cards, go out and shop and do stuff. If they don't do it now, I think that they will do it in the next month or so," Weiss said.

He noted that the storm missed the economic engine of northwest Arkansas and that many affected businesses have insurance to cover certain losses, so that should keep business tax revenues stable.

Outside a Little Rock grocery store, Connie Ratcliff used a cane for balance as she unloaded groceries in the cold rain Friday. She said she hasn't had electricity — or hot food — since Tuesday.

"First hot coffee since Christmas, too," Ratliff said, hoisting a foam cup in the air as she got into her car.