Strong winds leave thousands without power
By Logan Watson
A strong storm that blew through Northwest Tennessee left thousands of residents without power last Wednesday morning.
Shortly after 5 a.m. on March 1, strong winds, rain and hail slammed into homes and utility poles across the area, causing minor damage to a few local structures.
“We had about six structures that were impacted,” said Milan Fire Chief Steven Dillard. “There were numerous residences and buildings with roof damage, but it was mostly shingles being blown off and things like that.”
Chief Dillard stated that the brunt of the damage was done along a one-mile stretch from Anderson Street to the Milan Arsenal. Milan Tire and Brake sustained perhaps the most damage, as two large, plate glass windows were shattered by the high winds.
“We’re still not sure whether it was just high winds or a tornado,” said Chief Dillard. “The damage path mimics what a tornado would do, but if it was a tornado, it was only an F-0 or an F-1.” The Fujita Scale, which rates tornadoes based upon their relative wind speed, classifies an F-0 as having winds between 40-72 miles per hour. F-0 tornadoes typically do damage to some chimneys, sign boards and push over trees with shallow roots.
The minor storm was the first for new Milan Public Utility Director Jason Griggs, who spent numerous hours working along with the rest of the MPU crews to restore power as quickly as possible. Griggs told the Mirror-Exchange that just under 2,000 customers in the MPU’s 200 square mile service area were left without power.
“We had both crews working as well as a crew from Humboldt that came to help,” said Griggs. “Our service area is about 24 miles long from the northernmost tip to the southernmost tip.” With 48 percent of MPU’s customers residing outside of the city limits, crews repaired damage to their equipment from Idlewild to Carroll County.
Damage was minimal last week, but the potential for much stronger storms in the future is almost a certainty here in Northwest Tennessee. The Milan Fire Department had planned a city-wide tornado drill for last Wednesday, but were forced to cancel the event in order to repair damage from an actual storm. The drill, which would have taken place at the Hawkins-Whitby FEMA Building in downtown Milan, was to help educate the public about the FEMA Safe Space, but Chief Dillard stated that many nearby residents made use of the building on the morning of the storm.
“We had about 30 people in the FEMA building,” said Dillard. “There was actually one person already waiting when I got there that morning.”
Chief Dillard stated that the MFD is planning on rescheduling the city-wide drill on March 22. The drill will coincide with other drills at all three Milan schools.