Memphis storm damage pegged at $17M — enough to qualify for fed disaster funding

Memphis officials now estimate damages from last weekend’s severe storm at more than $17 million, well over the $9 million threshold that could trigger a federal disaster declaration leading to reimbursement of up to 80 percent of funds spend on repairs, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In early estimates, the city plans to spend $9.97 million on the storm cleanup, mostly to remove debris and repair public facilities, while MLGW (Memphis Light Gas and Water) plans to spend $7 million clearing debris and restoring service.

…The city initially submitted an estimate of $5 million in damages Wednesday afternoon to the Shelby County Office of Preparedness but revised the estimate after director Dale Lane said the amount was incomplete. The initial estimate left out the damage to city facilities, including to the roofs of the Memphis Police Department and Fire Department’s training facilities.

Within hours the city resubmitted its assessment of $4.5 million in building and equipment repairs, $3.7 million for debris removal, $605,000 for road and bridge repairs, $390,000 for emergency protective measures, and $751,000 for repairs at parks among other expenses. Lane’s office was still awaiting damage assessments from the county, suburban governments and schools Wednesday.

… As the damage estimates roll in, MLGW is still working to reduce the number of outages that left nearly 190,000 MLGW customers without power following the third worst storm in the county’s history. MLGW still estimates full power restoration will take more than a week, MLGW CEO Jerry Collins said at a press conference Wednesday in front of City Hall. The conference — an update on storm recovery efforts — also included McGowen, Reps. Joe Towns and Anthony Parkinson, and other appointed and elected officials.

…More than 20 city crews have cleared 256 of 481 streets blocked by downed trees, McGowen said. Seventy-five intersections were still without power Wednesday morning. MLGW has also brought in 73 out-of-town contractors to work on storm restoration, including 20 just focused on tree trimming.

Note: State Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, declared at a news conference that Gov. Bill Haslam should visit the impacted area, though he has no plans to do so at this point, reports WHBQ TV. Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, somewhat defended the governor, who will make the official request for disaster relief. Tennessee Star, frequently critical of Haslam, notes (HERE)  the governor is instead doing a series of ceremonial signing events around the state under this headline: Gov. Haslam Attends Ceremonial Signings, Ignores Severe Weather Damage in Memphis. 

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