Memphis residents continue to deal with power outages heading into the week

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 10:46 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2023 at 11:01 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Storm damage and more darkness for thousands of Mid-Southerners Friday after the latest round of wild weather tore through the area.

No word on how long debris cleanup could take, but we know MLGW will not meet its deadline for power restoration this week.

MLGW power outage numbers climbed back above 70,000 after crews had made so much headway from Tuesday’s round of severe weather.

As of 10:00 PM Friday, more than 49,000 MLGW customers were without power.

MLGW’s President and CEO Doug McGowen addressed a concerned and frustrated public at the Bartlett Performing Arts Center.

“It’s a big problem and it needs to be corrected now,” said one Bartlett resident.

“We’re not here just for the storms,” said Bartlett resident Marie Maxey. “We know they can’t help that, but ours goes out not all the time but in the last two years. He told me our neighborhood needed all new cable and when something goes wrong, they just patch it.”

Marie Maxey and her neighbors live in the Highlands of Bartlett area.

They say their power often goes out, not just when it rains, but even when the sun is out.

Bartlett was hit hard by a severe thunderstorm in June, leaving thousands without power.

McGowen said at the time, those outages were mostly caused by the large number of trees in the area that fell into lines.

McGowen said last year MLGW was supposed to do 1,400 miles of tree trimming. He says last year contractors cut only 190 miles.

“It’s an event like we’ve never had before,” said Bartlett Mayor David Parsons. “The whole city was out of power. [We] can’t help what happened but we can help ourselves going forward.”

Bartlett Mayor David Parsons, says he and city leaders wanted to hold Friday’s meeting to help get questions answered that city leaders just can’t.

“You talk about our being a metropolitan area so why are we having all of these issues,” said one Bartlett resident.

McGowen says he understands the frustration and says a plan to update the utility’s 50 to 60-year-old infrastructure is underway now and set to be complete in three years.

“There’s hardening of our infrastructure that’s going to happen,” said MLGW President and CEO Doug McGowen. “Modernization of the infrastructure, replacing old transformers, old fuses, old poles, installing new power lines. It inherently makes the system more reliable.”

McGowen says updates to the power outage map are coming as well.

“In just 18 months we’ve had the same number of customer outages to major storms than we’ve had in the previous ten years,” said McGowen.

McGowen also says just under 110 crews are in Shelby County working to restore power Friday and in the coming days.

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