MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis and Shelby County were not spared from the winds from Saturday morning’s storms.
MLGW put their own crews and out-of-state crews on standby Friday in anticipation of the storm. As expected, they were called in. At the height of the event Saturday morning, more than 38,000 MLGW customers were without power. Utility officials said they hope the pro-active response will help get power back on quicker.
“We were able to pull the trigger early on this storm to bring in outside resources, which is very important,” said Nick Newman, VP of Engineering and Operations for MLGW. “We had our guys on standby, more crews on standby that we’ve ever had in a long time.”
MLGW officials are calling the effort a multi-day restoration event, because of widespread damage across Shelby County. The utility said damage and outages were concentrated in the northern part of the county, along with Midtown and Southeast Memphis.
On President’s Island, the winds pulled down two dozen power poles, even trapping a car in between. On McLean in Midtown Memphis, a large tree took out lines leaving traffic lights out and stores closed.
MLGW said some equipment got struck by lightning but the wind was the main culprit.
“The high winds are definitely the biggest impact for us, which impacts the trees, which takes down our lines,” said Newman.
TDOT crews got to work Saturday morning cleaning up trees that cut off lanes on East Parkway North. A couple of blocks away, a massive tree fell into an apartment building, damaging multiple units.
Vivian Cheslack and Anna Warm showed WMC Action News 5 around their flooded apartment not long after the tree tore a hole in the roof. The two are from Florida and just moved to Memphis, getting quite a welcome.
“I thought it was really loud thunder, but it was the tree falling,” said Cheslack. “I’m from south Florida. I’ve seen a lot of hurricane damage and stuff.”
MLGW said they hope to get power restored to most customers by late Monday night into early Tuesday morning, but the utility acknowledged the repairs to President’s Island are significant and could take longer.