Shelby commission presses for post-ice storm emergency assistance

By: - February 24, 2022 6:00 am
Two men remove a tree downed during a Feb. 3 ice storm in Shelby County. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht)

Two men remove a tree downed during a Feb. 3 ice storm in Shelby County. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht)

Shelby County Commissioners passed a resolution supporting Congressman Steve Cohen’s request for emergency assistance in dealing with damages caused by a recent ice storm, which left more than 233,000 residents without power. 

On Feb. 3, Shelby County residents received up to half an inch of ice accumulation, which caused tree branches to crash into power lines and left many residents without electricity for nearly two weeks. 

Memphis’s electricity provider, Memphis, Light, Gas and Water, said in a council meeting last week that they had been unable to fix the power outages sooner due to unsafe conditions and estimated that repairs would cost $14 million. 

MLGW is expecting to receive up to 75% in reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but Gov. Bill Lee has yet to declare the storms a disaster, impeding federal support.

On Feb. 7, Cohen asked Lee to seek emergency assistance from FEMA in order for support to reach affected communities. 

On Wednesday, county commissioners voted unanimously on a resolution to support Cohen’s request to declare parts of Shelby County disaster areas, noting that this will allow the county and residents the possibility for reimbursement. 

“As we know, several Shelby County residents were without power for a very long time. They lost food, they lost wages, homes were destroyed, We’re still driving around streets and seeing trees everywhere,” said Commissioner Tami Sawyer. “We’re still recovering from that ice storm and the concern is that this will happen again.”

Sawyer spoke on the role of commissioners, adding that while they don’t have a lot of control over recovery efforts, they can  “at least use the power of this body to add to the request so that businesses and people in Shelby County can receive support that is there.”

“It just needs to be turned on,” she added. 

The resolution was added to the Shelby County Commission’s consent agenda and is expected to pass on Monday, Feb. 28. 


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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.