20 years later: Mid-South learns from 1994 ice storm - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

20 years later: Mid-South learns from 1994 ice storm

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - It is a day that many of us will never forget. February 11, 1994. A huge ice storm hit that crippled the Mid-South.

It has been 20 years since that storm, which served as a major lesson when it comes to storm preparations. So how have things changed since then?

If you lived in Memphis in February 1994, you probably have a story or two to tell. Even though storms cannot be prevented, there are after effects that can be.

During the ice storm of '94, tree limbs began to snap, taking power lines and poles down with them.

"We had 425,000 customers and over half our customers were without services," said Gayle Jones Carson, MLGW.

Some MLGW customers were without power for as many as 17 days.

Should there be a repeat event, what has the city learned in 20 years?

"Each major storm we're getting better," said Carson, who said there is a lesson in every storm.

During Hurricane Elvis in 2003, power was restored in a much shorter seven days.

At the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, forecasts are coming in sooner and much more accurately than they did 20 years ago.

"I think technology is so enhanced what they can do, that we get a lot of lead time," said Bob Nations, Shelby Co. Office of Preparedness.

The ice storm of 1994 also predates the 9/11 attacks, which forced a multi-agency emergency response plan, whether it be terrorism or weather.

Disseminating information is also a lot easier these days with cell phones and social media networks.

"We constantly communicate with our customers," added Carson.

No one can prevent another ice storm, but officials say the Mid-South is much more prepared for its crippling effects.

One of the most important roles in any disaster is an educated public, and officials say technology gives the public unlimited access to life saving information, which is something that was as not at their fingertips 20 years ago.

"I'm asked all the time, 'Are we prepared?' and my answer is, 'Definitely,'" said Nations.

Click here to see more images from the 1994 ice storm.

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