Tennessee's Also Struggling to Keep Water On

Memphis distributes thousands of bottles while crews work
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 21, 2021 11:20 AM CST
Broken Mains in Tennessee Cause Water Shortage
An abandoned car is covered in snow Thursday in Nashville.   (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)

Crews in Tennessee raced Sunday to fix water mains that failed in freezing temperatures, as the region worked to recover from winter weather that paralyzed parts of the nation. Ten inches of snow fell in Memphis last week, followed by a sustained cold snap. With the forecast calling for temperatures to climb into the 50s, the city expected to see significant melting of the snow and ice that accumulated on streets, sidewalks, and roofs. Now the problem is not enough water, the AP reports. Memphis remained under a boil advisory Sunday after officials said they were concerned that low water pressure caused by problems at aging pumping stations and a rash of water main ruptures could lead to contamination. Memphis, Light, Gas & Water has not said when it expects to lift the advisory, which has been in place since Thursday.

The utility's CEO, JT Young, compared the situation to a hospital patient in critical condition. "We are in the red status, if you will," Young said Saturday. About 260,000 homes and businesses were under the advisory. Hospitals and nursing homes switched to bottled water. The Tennessee National Guard was supplying St. Francis Hospital with water. The city planned to give away some 44,000 bottles of water on Sunday at seven locations, per the Commercial Appeal. Grocery stores struggled to keep shelves stocked with bottled water. Many restaurants remained closed. Flights resumed Saturday at Memphis International Airport after everything was grounded Friday because of water pressure problems. Some problems still lingered, and airport officials set up temporary restrooms. (Texas is getting federal money to help with infrastructure repairs.)

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