Remaining 40,000 power outages will take 7 more days to eliminate

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - MLGW frustrated customers when they predicted Wednesday that it would take seven more days to restore power in the city.

The utility company said the storm will end up costing MLGW $7 million--a figure that includes overtime, cost for contract crews, and damage to lines and poles.

MLGW announced 24 additional crews would assist with restoration efforts. That brings the total number of utility crews working recovery efforts after Saturday's storm to 97.

The storm, which moved in Saturday night, knocked out power to as many as 190,000 MLGW customers. Most of those homes are back online, but the remaining 40,000 outages are going to take a long time to repair.

MLGW said the remaining outages are the most tedious and time-consuming to repair.

"Now we're into the small outages," MLGW President Jerry Collins said. "The small outages take just as much time as the large outages, but you may not see as much fruit from your labor."

Sharon Tate and her family live in Whitehaven. They have been without power since Saturday night.

"At night time, it's hot. We've got grandkids over here, and we have to keep the window open," Tate said. "It's very frustrating.

"We are approaching day four of this, and I know asking for patience is a stretch," Tennessee Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-98) said.

Henry Wardlow said he is patient, and he understands the mountain of work MLGW faces. Still, he would like someone from the city to come by and at least look at two trees and downed power lines on Whitehaven Lane that haven't been touched since the storm.

City and county leaders are still assessing the damage and the potential costs. Meanwhile, many have asked why Governor Bill Haslam has not made a trip to Memphis since the storm.

One family said being on Day 4 with no power is bad enough, but they believe the governor not showing up makes it feel worse.

"You feel overlooked, you just feel overlooked because you see the trucks riding but you don't see them stopping in your community," said Derek Strong, who is still without power.

Strong, his wife, and two kids said they wish MLGW would move faster in getting the power turned on to their Whitehaven neighborhood.

But with the third largest power outage in MLGW history, Strong also wonders why Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam hasn't been here.

He's not the only one.

"It rubs me the wrong way," Strong said. "I feel maybe Memphis isn't big enough."

"The governor needs to come down to see his largest population base," said state Representative Joe Towns (D).

At a news conference Wednesday held by Rep. Towns, TEMA officials said they are helping city and county leaders survey damage to see if individuals may qualify for federal assistance.

"It was a tremendous storm that rolled thru the entire state of Tennessee this week," said Dean Fiener with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Memphis's storm is expected to cost MLGW at least $7 million and the city at least $5 million, which could put local governments in line to receive some federal reimbursement.

"I think everyone feels better when they see the person that has the power coming in," Rep. Towns said.

As for Governor Haslam's absence, TEMA would only say one thing.

"The governor keeps his schedule and if the governor decides to come to Memphis and Shelby County, the governor's office will announce that," Fiener said.

Meanwhile, many families in Binghampton said they've been told the power might be out until next week.

"It's frustrating," said Sandra Kendrick, who lives in the Tillman area. "I'm ready to go now."

Kendrick said things can't get much worse, and the past few days in the dark have been hectic.

"I got two daughters here and both of them pregnant, then I got three grandbabies here," Kendrick said.

In her backyard are downed trees and power lines following Saturday's storms.

"They came by and said we probably wouldn't get power to probably next week," Kendrick said.

It's discouraging news for her family and lots of people who live nearby.

"We just got to sit here and wait it out," said Jarvis Robinson, who also lives in the Tillman area.

Robinson said his family can't afford to get a hotel or even buy new groceries.

"Eating what we can, cold cut stuff like that, that's all," Robinson said.

Neighbors are also helping out their neighbors during the outage.

Erin Lane checked on her 72-year-old neighbor Wednesday.

"Everybody needs to be checked on," Lane said. "In a bad situation, somebody needs to show good."

Back at Kendrick's house, she's doing all she can to stay cool.

"Yesterday I went and got a generator," Kendrick said.

Many people are buying ice to at least keep their milk and water cool for their families. Others are doing their best to make it, despite no power in these warm temperatures.

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