Photo by Sue WatsonSeveral large trees in Hill Crest Cemetery were downed by the strong wind accompanying the June 3 storm in Holly Springs.
Photo by Sue WatsonBill Stone is interviewed by a reporter with WMC Action News 5 in Memphis, Tenn., about storm damage in Holly Springs.
Storm cleanup continues
Holly Springs is still cleaning up downed trees and limbs and scattered debris created by an early morning June 3 storm.
About 20 homes were found damaged by fallen limbs, two of which may be a total loss, according to Hugh Hollowell, emergency management coordinator for Marshall County.
One was a mobile home where a limb broke through the roof and floor.
Hollowell praised the community response. A volunteer group of about 25 Baptists spent two days after the storm helping cut limbs off homes and hauling limbs and chunks to the roadside. They were from DeSoto, Tate, Calhoun and Yalobusha counties.
“They got the worst of the worst,” he said.
The Holly Springs Utility Department brought in contract crews to help in clearing rights-of-way and in putting poles and lines back up.
General manager Bill Stone said initial estimates of customer outages ran around 3,000. By Tuesday evening of last week all but about 100 customers had electricity back on. Some customers won’t get power restored until they replace their broken weather heads, he said.
Holly Springs Mayor Kelvin Buck said the city will try to get private or public assistance from MEMA.
But Hollowell said it is unlikely the losses will be large enough to make the threshold for disaster relief.
“It is certainly hard for individuals because the threshold is quite high for losses,” he said.
In order for a county to increase its likelihood to get federal disaster money, sometimes adjacent counties can combine their losses if a storm or tornado bounces across counties such as in the December 23, 2015, tornado. Thresholds are in the millions, he said.
“They don’t tell us what the threshold is,” he added. “From what it was a couple of years ago, we’re not even close. We haven’t given up on applying for assistance, but it doesn’t look good.”
The city did the right thing, though, by immediately documenting losses and costs in case it does qualify for assistance, Hollowell said.
“Debris is always a big issue and Holly Springs has many tall, old trees,” he said.
“It was sad. I was riding around Sunday. But, as bad as it was, it could have been worse. I just feel for individuals who had losses.”
The community stepped up to the plate again as they did in the tornado of 2015. Clancy’s Cafe in Red Banks provided food to the Baptist volunteer group and Kings Restaurant provided barbecue.
Stone said a temporary permit was obtained from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to stockpile wood debris behind the utility department.
He thanked the community’s contributions to help the crews stay on the job.
“Maia Miller led the effort and we had spaghetti Sunday afternoon,” Stone said. “Kim and Terry Cook with NAPA fed us pizza Wednesday.”
Helping Miller were Jane Farris, Michele Stuber, Bea Green and Diane Greer.
Stone praised his employees.
“They did what they always do – went to work, worked long hours and worked hard starting to put things back together,” Stone said.
Some other things worked well, like the call center, he said.
Other things did not work to optimum as they have in the past. The Outage Detection System experienced some equipment problems.
“It was not working as well as it has the last few months,” he said.
Preliminary cost of contract crews and HSUD employees to rebuild the system is expected to exceed $100,000, Stone said.
The cost to dispose of debris is not known as yet. Stone said Marshall County and the City will participate in that decision.
“That is a decision that is bigger than the utility department,” he said.
Stone joined HSUD as general manager on July 31, 2017.
A fall storm damaged a large portion of HSUD’s coverage area, from Laws Hill to Canaan in Benton County.
Then the North Substation malfunctioned twice. Ice buildup in the substation contributed to the last malfunction.
Several construction accidents caused HSUD to lose power this year as TVA crews were putting up new lines.
The TVA line from Ashland to Holly Springs is expected to be ready for transitioning in September and the Ashland Substation will be ready at the same time.
“This will make the system more robust just like when we added the Coldwater Substation a few years ago (in Mt. Pleasant),” Stone said.
Also, TVA will install a new capacitor bank east of the South Holly Springs Substation on Neely Avenue. That bank will build stability in the power supply, he said.
A recent lightning strike hit equipment on the water tower in Holly Springs.
“It’s called the gateway, and it allows the collectors along the roadsides to transmit data back to the head end,” Stone said.
That equipment is being repaired, he said.