Mississippi leaders look to switch power provider for Marshall and Benton Counties
BENTON CO., Miss. (WMC) - After seven days in the dark, local and state leaders in parts of Mississippi are saying enough!
Some Benton County residents are still without power one week after a storm ripped through the county.
Residents in Ashland, Mississippi in Benton County, where Wednesday’s news conference was held, get their power from Holly Springs in Marshall County.
Folks got pretty heated, saying the mayor of Holly Springs did not respond quickly enough to the power outages. Now state leaders want to reevaluate who provides power to the area.
“I called them yesterday and told them ‘I need my lights on,’” said Benton County resident Deloris. “I said we’re losing everything we’ve got because we don’t have any power.”
Deloris is just one of the many Benton County residents who lost power after last Wednesday’s storm.
“It was rough,” said Deloris. “It was really tough. You’re losing your food. There’s no bathroom. No water it was terrible.”
She says she went six days without power. It’s something Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley says is unacceptable.
“We try to take an approach to let those people in the middle of the disaster run it,” said Commissioner Brandon Presley. “But when you’re seven days in you have to also identify if there are operational problems.”
Commissioner Presley and other leaders representing Benton and Marshall Counties say the Holly Springs Utility Department is not picking up the phone or communicating with residents.
They also say the city did not reach out for help to neighboring leaders and electric companies. But Holly Springs Mayor Sharon Gipson says that’s not true.
“We are still dealing with people who do not have power, to see this type of press conference, to see these types of allegations is a disgrace,” said Holly Springs Mayor Sharon Gipson
Mayor Gipson says crews from Tupelo and New Albany, even MLGW have been working to get power restored. She also says crews had a harder time getting to rural areas, even having to use heavy equipment to pick up power poles.
“I will not accept,” said Mayor Gipson. “I will not concede that the city didn’t do the best job that it could.”
As of Wednesday, Mayor Gipson says less than 200 people in their service area are without power.
Commissioner Presley says he believes lawmakers should look at changing utility providers for this area during the next legislative session.
Mayor Gipson did say they were looking at improving communication problems and I-T issues.
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