David Porter said his gray 2007 pickup did not have a scratch on it Sunday afternoon.
But by midnight Sunday, Porter’s truck, two of his neighbors’ cars and hundreds of homes in Clarksdale had been damaged by a fast-moving western front that blew across the state, killing 11. Fortunately there were no fatalities or major injuries reported in Coahoma County.
“All I heard was a boom,” said Porter, who has lived at 181 West Second Street for the past 15 years. “This is the first time something like this has ever happened to me. I’m insured, but I really liked that truck the way it was.”
The tree that fell on Porter’s truck also uprooted waterlines in the city right of way.
Approximately 3,300 Clarksdale Public Utilities customers lost their power when Sunday’s storms rushed across Coahoma County at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. The outage for some lasted 18 hours.
CPU general manager Curtis Boschert reported 15 of 21 circuits opened at the time causing the power outages.
Mayor Chuck Espy said the storm was caused by straight line winds at Monday’s board meeting. Boschert said he did not know if the storm spawned a tornado, but strong winds caused the outage.
“We immediately started calling people into work, so we had people in place that had reported to work at about 10 o’clock Sunday night,” Boschert said.
He said employees worked non-stop until 6 p.m. Monday.
Boschert said, by 4 p.m. Monday, all meters except around 500 were working.
Tuesday morning he said crews were working to restore power to everyone by the end of the day.
Even though all circuits were closed by 4 p.m. Monday, Boschert said weather caused trees to hit peoples’ houses causing power outages. CPU will be looking at the houses damaged in the coming days.
One of the immediate priorities was to make sure businesses were up and running.
“We’re focused first on doing the work where we can get as many people back on as possible,” Boschert said.
After assessing damage throughout the community, Boschert had not heard of any injuries in Coahoma County.
“I have received no reports of any injuries to customers or our employees,” Boschert said.
According to Boschert, some of the areas hardest hit were Lincoln Place and 7th Street, the Ashton Avenue area and Highway 322, which impacted many businesses.
Clarksdale Public Works helped CPU clean up the trees on the streets. Police reported downlines and handled traffic and security in town. The Sheriff’s Department handled similar duties in the county.
The storm also dumped almost 4-inches of rain on the town and the Clarksdale Fire Department was even called to clear a drain on Pecan Street and other areas reporting flooding.
Atmos Energy Co. helped with the gas lines and AT&T helped with the phone lines. Greenwood Utilities sent several trucks to Clarksdale Tuesday morning.
“(Greenwood) only had a couple of poles down,” Boschert said
The storm did more severe damage in the central and southern part of the state and killed 11 people. Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Monday morning.
Boschert said CPU is always ready to go when storms cause the power outages, he noted 90 percent of homes had power restored within 18 hours.
“I think we have the personnel and the equipment in place and supply to respond to it,” Boschert said. “You never know how bad things can be until it happens.
“It’s not acceptable in our view that anybody’s out, but we are glad that we were able to get that many people back on in that timeframe,” said Boschert, adding 50 percent of customers lost their power.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, CPU has practiced social distancing and adjusted employee work schedules accordingly.
“We obviously brought everybody in (during the power outage),” Boschert said. “We did not bring in shifts. We just ask them to social distance as much as possible. Sometimes that’s not possible when you have to get things done.”
“We’re not happy that we’ve still got customers off. We ask for their patience,” said Boschert looking ahead. “We’re still working as hard as possible to get them back on.”