In the spring and summer of 2011, the Southern U.S. experienced one of the most devastating storm seasons in recent memory. Deadly tornadoes ravaged cities such as Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri, and storms wreaked havoc on an unprecedented level. Several cities, including the Tennessee cities of Knoxville and Chattanooga, experienced their largest power outages ever.
While the Memphis area did not sustain a storm of that magnitude, 2011 was historic for MLGW in that the utility experienced five different storms that affected 50,000 customers or more. Before 2011, MLGW had never sustained more than two such incidents in a single year.
For each of these storms -- three of which hit Shelby County in April -- MLGW’s restoration process kicked into gear, with crews working around-the-clock to repair damage and restore power, and MLGW providing continuous information about their progress.
With a February 2011 storm still fresh in memory, another struck on April 4, resulting in the fifth worst storm in terms of damage in MLGW’s history; 71,000 customers were affected. Over 100 MLGW crews and 20 outside crews worked around the clock to complete full restoration within a week.
On the evening of April 19, the next major storm knocked out power to 64,000 customers; with 120 MLGW and outside crews working, full restoration occurred three days later.
On April 26, the last major storm struck, knocking out power to 55,600 customers during a recovery that took four days to complete.
With each storm, as crews worked to restore service, MLGW also provided a steady stream of information to customers through its call center, www.mlgw.com, local news media as well as via social media. In April 2011, MLGW’s Twitter account, @MLGW, sent out an estimated 1,600 tweets, not including direct messages with customers.
No sooner was restoration completed when a new challenge emerged: the May 2011 flood. MLGW served a more complementary role in the flood response, assisting FEMA, Shelby County and the City of Memphis by disconnecting utilities to affected areas, assisting with sandbagging, and providing information to customers affected by the flooding.
MLGW produced public service announcements to assist customers who were evacuating and later returning to areas affected by the flood, and also staffed booths in order to help customers deal with the challenges this disaster presented. Collaboration with other government entities also became a daily routine in order to get accurate information to the public.
As a reminder, here are links to helpful YouTube videos that customers can access to prepare for the storm season: Shutting Off Utilities and How to Prepare for a Power Outage.
MLGW has a free brochure, entitled "Weathering Nature’s Fury," that is filled with ideas to help you prepare your personal storm preparation kit, as well as much more valuable information. If you would like a copy of our this brochure, please call our Customer Care Center at 544-MLGW (6549) or visit www.mlgw.com/stormprep.
MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 421,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County.