WINTER WEATHER took Arkansas by storm multiple times in February and March, impacting numerous Arkansas Baptist entities both large and small.
What had been a fairly mild winter took a turn for the cold Feb. 15-17, resulting in up to 4 and 5 inches of sleet and snow in some areas of the state, according to the National Weather Service. The state was also hit by winter weather Feb. 20-23, Feb. 25 and Feb. 27-28, as well as another winter blast the first of March.
Facebook posts by Arkansas Baptist churches revealed that a number of activities, events and church services were canceled due to the weather.
In addition to churches, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) building was closed Feb. 16-18, Feb. 23-25 and March 5-6 due to inclement weather. Also, Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge and Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia each closed their campuses for a period of time.
Brett Cooper, vice president for institutional advancement at Williams, said that Williams missed numerous days in February and March.
“Our problem was that nearly all of the precipitation fell as sleet,” said Cooper. “We had 2 inches of sleet, which freezes into a solid, almost impenetrable sheet of ice that melts very slowly. It brought northeast Arkansas to a virtual standstill for an entire week.”
Cooper added, “We certainly didn't desire to keep our students out of the classroom for so long, but the heavy layer of sleet actually made the decision pretty easy each day. Even after the main highways were cleared, our campus streets, parking lots and sidewalks remained coated with ice, and it couldn't be cleared away. Driving and even walking were hazardous, so we remained closed until we had sufficient melting to safely resume college operations.”
Trennis Henderson, Ouachita vice president for communications, said Ouachita opened with a 3-hour delay Feb. 24, with classes being canceled and offices being closed until 11 a.m. He said all Ouachita classes were canceled and offices were closed Feb. 25 and March 5.
Despite the inconvenience of the weather, Randy Garrett, ABSC disaster relief director, said only one disaster relief unit had to be deployed.
A disaster relief unit from Balboa Baptist Church in Hot Springs Village was sent to Arkadelphia to help with a tree that was broken in such a way that a large portion of the tree was in danger of falling.
As they related to disaster relief, Garrett said the recent winter storms were a “nonevent.”