Power linemen and water department employees working through cold nights to restore public services to thousands of Mississippians. Road engineers getting six hours of sleep all week working to keep major interstates and highways open. Police working overtime to respond to thousands of weather-related traffic accidents.
After the historic 2021 winter storm wrecked the state of Mississippi this week, officials are welcoming the winter weather’s forecast exit on Thursday and reflecting on the week.
“I have worked with (the Mississippi Department of Transportation) over 25 years, and have never seen such an event,” MDOT engineer Mark Holley wrote on Facebook. “Some might say we were not prepared. But in reality, we were more prepared than we have ever been.”
Holley continued: “I sincerely hope that in 25 plus years from now, we are still talking about this event as the ‘worst one ever.'”
The effects of the storm on the state:
• Several state highways remain closed Thursday after many of the state’s major interstates and highways were closed at different points during the week. By Thursday late morning, every major interstate had at least one lane open in both directions.
• At least 250,000 Mississippians lost power at some point during the week, including about 170,000 who were still without power on Thursday late morning.
• Residents in dozens of Mississippi cities and towns are without water or have low water pressure.
• Hundreds of schools and colleges across the state cancelled classes. In the north part of the state, many schools have already announced cancelling classes on Friday.
While the National Weather Service has forecasted that winter precipitation will end across the state by Thursday evening, freezing temperatures could still affects water and electric systems. A hard freeze warning is in effect through Thursday night for much of the state.
“Unlike a hurricane or tornado, where the event comes furiously and then ends, this has been a slow-moving disaster,” Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted on Thursday. “We have been in response mode, not recovery, constantly. There has not been a significant break in the freeze—it just keeps coming.”