UPDATE: As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, there were 3,541 outages reported affecting 120,575 customers. About 30% of MLGW customers are without power.
MLGW CEO J.T. Young said it will be several days before power is restored to all customers. 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 are being brought in to work by 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.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thousands of Memphians are still without power after an ice storm moved across Shelby County Thursday.
As of 10:12 PM, there were 3,015 outages reported affecting 129,311 customers. There were reports of 225 trees down in Memphis roadways.
Mayor Jim Strickland declared a state of emergency across the city around 4 p.m.
Northcentral Electric Cooperative, which services an area around Olive Branch, Mississippi, said at 3 p.m. they had 11 outages affecting 4,600 customers. They were aware of lines down in 20 locations and six broken poles.
MLGW and city officials held an emergency meeting on Thursday to address power concerns. They said they are calling in as many outside crews as they can to help, and local crews were working 16-hour shifts.
“All hands are on deck,” said MLGW spokeswoman Gale Jones Carson.
Road conditions had deteriorated, especially in the northern part of the city, and trees and tree limbs were falling everywhere, officials said.
“We’re going to work 24 hours a day as long as we need to,” said Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht.
This weather pattern is expected to continue another 16 hours, Knecht said at noon. Temperatures are also falling.
Carson said that meant more power outages are likely over the next few days. Power lines can handle about a quarter-inch of ice but the big problem is tree limbs. With the forecast calling for more freezing conditions, it’s going to make their job that much harder.
“It is not gonna be restored quickly, I can assure you of that, not because we can’t, not because we don’t want it to be restored quickly, it just gonna be a little more difficult because of the ice,” Carson said.
In neighborhoods throughout Memphis, you will see downed power lines leaving many customers without power including Willie Rucker, who just got out the hospital.
“Right now, I’m not feel that well at all. With my condition being here, I’m gonna freeze. So, I gotta go where it’s warm,” Rucker said.
MLGW crews will generally service areas that are hardest-hit first, whether they are in the outlying municipalities in Shelby County or inside the city of Memphis, Carson said.
MLGW customers still without service are encouraged to call the Outage Hotline at (901) 544-6500. To report an emergency, such as a down power line or a gas leak, MLGW asks you call (901) 528-4465. To report downed trees on city streets, call (901)636-2525.
MLGW services 438,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County.
Carson said during the 1994 ice storm, about 80% of MLGW customers were without power, some for as long as three weeks.
WREG will continue to update.