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Friday storm aftermath

Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association workers remained on the job at midday Saturday attempting to restore power lost during intense Friday afternoon thunderstorms that swept through north Mississippi.

TVEPA spokesman Jim Vinson said that as many as 5,000 to 7,000 customers may have been without electricity in the storm’s aftermath. By Saturday noon that number had been reduced to about 1,000. Vinson said that he hoped to have most of the remaining customers’ power restored by midnight Saturday.

“That may be wildly optimistic,” he added.

Heavy rains began between 3 and 4 p.m. Friday afternoon followed by strong winds estimated to have reached 60 to 70 miles per hour in gusts. The winds and rain were accompanied by a darkness quite unnatural for a June afternoon.

An unofficial rain gauge on Eureka Street in Batesville caught 5.5 inches of water during the storm, most within two hours Friday afternoon. The downpour and strong winds coincided with Batesville’s heavy Friday afternoon traffic. Emergency responders coped with flooded streets and parking lots. Highway 35 was blocked at Kelly’s One Stop near the Highway 51 overpass because of the runoff flooding the street.

Vinson said that most of the outages within the TVEPA service area that remained on Saturday were in Yalobusha and Tallahatchie Counties and in the south part of Panola County. Most TVEPA workers who started at 8 a.m. Friday were still on the job at midday Saturday he said. TVEPA did not seek outside assistance from another electric power association, he said.

“We think we can handle this one.”

In the North Central Mississippi Electric Power Association service area, which includes parts of DeSoto County, crews from other power associations had been called in to help restore power to the more seriously damaged system there, Vinson said.

The June 12 storm followed by almost one month a May 13 storm which struck Panola County with strong, damaging winds. That storm followed almost 12 inches of rainfall in as many days and uprooted trees, blowing them onto homes, fences and power lines. In Friday’s storm, the ground was less saturated and tree roots were believed to have been better anchored.