MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This ice storm doesn’t quite compare to the historic one that crippled Shelby County back in 1994 — but it’s close, MLGW CEO JT Young said Friday.
As of 8 a.m. Friday, there were 3,238 outages reported affecting 124,479 customers, or about 30% of MLGW customers. That means almost 1 in 3 MLGW customers are without power.
A spokesperson for the utility said Thursday that during the 1994 ice storm, about 80% of MLGW customers were without power, some for as long as three weeks.
But that’s cold comfort for customers waiting to have power restored. Young said it will be several days before power is back on for all customers.
Young used the analogy of a trauma patient in a hospital to explain the current situation.
He said the power system is currently in “critical condition” and crews are working to stabilize it.
There are 18 MLGW crews working 16-hour shifts, and 54 additional contract crews will be brought in to work as early as Saturday morning.
“We are working, as we speak, on getting more crews in,” Young said.
MLGW is in the process of upgrading its systems, he said.
“We’re trying to make our system as resilient as we can, but this is a very, very challenging event,” he said.
Restoration efforts for this event are estimated to cost around $15 million, MLGW Senior Vice President and COO Alonzo Weaver said.
“You may not see a crew working, but we’re working to get your power back, you can count on that,” Weaver said.
The city has 23 crews working on removing trees from roads, city Public Works Director Robert Knecht said. All trees should be removed by Saturday.
The mayors of both Memphis and Shelby County have declared a state of emergency after the winter storms.
MLGW services 438,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County. You can view their outage map here.
The number to call to report an outage is (901) 544-6500, and the emergency number is (901) 528-4465. For medical emergencies, such as patients on a ventilator who need power, call the Office of Emergency Management at (901) 636-2525.
Entergy Arkansas services many customers in both eastern Arkansas and north Mississippi, including DeSoto County. That service is also experiencing outages. You can view their outage map here.