NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some 50,000 Nashville Electric Service customers are still without power Tuesday night after another round of storms moved through Monday night.
Decosta Jenkins, president and CEO of NES, provided an update during Metro's daily COVID-19 briefing, saying crews had made significant progress after Sunday's storms. However, the second round of storms last night caused about 15,000 additional outages.
Right now, crews are focusing on repairing primary lines and substations to restore power to the maximum amount of customers. Yesterday, crews repaired 31 major circuits.
Jenkins said the NES outage map is reporting a much higher number, but they're currently have technical issues with their outage management system.
We apologize that we are experiencing technical difficulties with our online outage map. We know customers rely on that map to gather the most up-to-date information on the restoration process, and we are working to get it fixed as soon as possible.
At its worst Monday, NES had 130,000 outages. Crews are still working to repair some 127 broken poles, which was a record-number of outages.
On Monday, Jenkins said the damage is so widespread, it could take a week, possibly two, to fully restore power.
— Mo Haider (@mhaider_NC5) May 5, 2020
All available NES and nearby contract crews are working 14-hour shifts, 24/7. COVID-19 has also impacted the number of out-of-state crews that are available. However, additional contract crews from Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia are en-route to assist and will begin work Wednesday morning. They will bring with them 36 additional trucks and as many as 90 crew members.
National Weather Service officials say Sunday's line of storms was likely the worst straight-line wind event in Middle Tennessee since 2004.
The strong winds knocked down transformers and cut off power to neighborhoods near Canterbury Hall Condominiums in Southeast Nashville. At least three transformers were damaged, with one landing in the middle of the condo driveway.
Neighbors told NewsChannel 5 they were forced to either hop the curb and drive through their neighbor’s yards or wait out NES.
“Even if we didn’t get the power back on, as long as that (transformer) can get out of the way, we’re good with that,” said Guso Obaldia.
Neighbors are hoping the extras crews from out of state will help get their power restored quicker. Negotiations are already underway for help from North Carolina and Georgia.
NES said that unlike the tornado in March which isolated the damage, these winds were far more damaging across Nashville as a whole.
“You have to accept the fact that you’re not getting anywhere,” said David McCuiston.
There wasn’t much of an option for McCuiston who spends most of his time confined to a wheelchair. After two days however, his biggest concern was the more than $600 in food he lost in his freezer.
“That will be a big expense and hopefully my insurance company will pay,” said McCuiston.
When word spread of what happened with McCuiston and others just like him, Robert Taft decided to help the best way he knew how.
“He couldn’t get anywhere, nobody came to see him and I was like man, would you like something to eat,” said Taft.
Taft threw enough burgers, chicken and hot dogs on the grill to feed his entire neighborhood. He personally delivered the meal to McCuiston and continued to do so for the next two days. Every so often, checking in to see how McCuiston is holding up.
“He told me four or five times that he enjoyed it, but I didn’t mind doing it really,” said Taft.
It’s tough to think of people sticking together at a time when we’re supposed to be apart, but that’s exactly what the people of this neighborhood are doing. Social distancing now less of a priority, but not that these neighbors mind. In fact, if you ask, some wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I want my little daughter to be brought up right. Don’t let something like this get in your way, when it’s time to help people,” said Taft.
If you haven’t done so already, you can report an outage at NESpower.com or you can text “OUT” to 637797.