Strong Storms Leave Thousands Without Power


Downed trees forced road closures and left thousands without electricity Friday morning when a low-pressure storm system saturated the ground and uprooted trees.

By Sabrina Bates

MVP Regional News Editor

March came in like a lion last week as wind and torrential rain downed trees that drug power lines with them. A severe thunderstorm as a result of a low-pressure system brought straight-line winds Friday afternoon. The storm left 7,800 Weakley County Municipal Electric System customers without power that day.

“We’re very appreciative of everyone’s patience with us during this event. We had all hands on deck working to restore power,” WCMES Andrea Harrington said. The general manager said the utility company is still dealing with pole replacements and working on specific locations where meters were torn off of the house from downed trees or large limbs. Over the weekend, 39 WCMES team members were out trying to restore electricity in the coverage area. Typically, WCMES has 30 people on its outside crew. The combined effort to restore power took mechanics and substation employees, while office personnel came in to field phone calls.

Union City Electric sent six personnel to assist WCMES. While most of the households saw their electricity restored by Saturday evening, Harrington said they still had some areas that needed further assistance, particularly those who lost a meter in the storm.

By Sunday, there were WCMES team members who headed to Benton and Carroll counties to help those areas restore power. On Monday, two local crews traveled to Henry County to help out Paris Electric with their customers.

While WCMES team members were working to restore power, members of the Weakley County Highway Department hit the ground running about 6:30 Friday morning, clearing trees from roadways. Road Supervisor Jeff Crosby said they had reports of about 70 downed trees and they found more along the way. The highway department sent out five pieces of equipment with five crews of two to three people who worked to clear county roads.

Two culverts washed out in Dukedom - one on Parker Road and another on Oak Grove Road. Another culvert washed out at Bean Switch Road in Greenfield. All led to road closures, but by Tuesday afternoon, workers were finishing up culvert replacements.

Cosby wanted to remind community members to call 911 when they see downed trees in roadways, especially at night and on the weekends. The sheriff’s department will notify Cosby and they’ll send a crew out immediately to get roads and highways cleared of debris.

Weakley County Emergency Management Director Ray Wiggington said weather patterns have changed over the years. Until 2019, county agencies were preparing for the primary threat of flooding in the area. Now, high winds seem to be a significant weather threat for this region.

Wiggington said areas that didn’t flood in the past are now flooding. Ironically, in mid-February parts of Gleason saw significant flooding when Weakley County saw more than seven inches of rain in six hours. A creekbed known as “Dry Creek” busted its banks last month and forced several inches of water over the road.

The EMA director said on Tuesday as several agencies were assessing property from last week’s storm system, the majority of reports were downed trees and minor roof damage.

Those with cell phones can text WEAKLEY911 to 888777 for local weather alerts. Visit Weakley County EMA on Facebook for additional information.