U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen (D-Tenn. 9th), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn. 7th), and John Tanner (D-8th) today announced a $2 million Department of Homeland Security grant for earthquake protection of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) electrical substations in Shelby County.
“An earthquake on the New Madrid Fault line could prove disastrous for the Shelby County area,” Alexander said. “This funding will help protect nearly one million West Tennesseans on the MLGW grid from power outages should an earthquake hit. I’m glad to see the Department of Homeland Security recognizing the threat of an earthquake in the Greater Memphis Area, and I will continue to work with the rest of the Tennessee delegation to ensure we are prepared.”
“The New Madrid fault could pose a potential risk to the Memphis-Shelby County area in the unlikely event of a major earthquake. Loss of electrical power, in particular, during an earthquake could hinder the rescue and recovery effort. This funding from DHS will help secure the electrical system from shock so it does not fail,” Corker said. “I appreciate the commitment of DHS to helping Tennessee communities prepare for natural and manmade disasters before they occur.”
“This funding is absolutely essential for the safety and well-being of residents in the Mid-South,” said Cohen. “I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security is taking the necessary steps to ensure that our critical infrastructure is protected in the event of a catastrophic event such as an earthquake. The 9th District lies along the New Madrid fault line and we must be ready for an earthquake at any time. Having witnessed the consequences of unpreparedness for Hurricane Katrina, my Tennessee delegation colleagues and I are even more aware of the importance of pre-disaster preparation.”
"We know that our area is vulnerable to earthquakes because of our geographic location," Tanner said. "It is imperative that we have the resources in place to keep West Tennesseans safe if such a disaster were to occur."
"What we have seen in the past month is how critical solid preparation is to a community's ability to weather a natural disaster,” Blackburn said. “Unlike a hurricane, devastating earthquakes strike without warning. I am gratified to know that in the event of disaster, the preparations that this grant facilitates will allow essential services to continue for Shelby County."
The Memphis-Shelby County area lies within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which has more seismic activity in any other place in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. This funding goes toward the seismic anchoring of 110 critical high voltage transformers in the MLGW service area to protect them from failure during a potential earthquake. High voltage transformers are the most critical points of failure for the MLGW electric power system.
Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) is a private nonprofit organization. The Pre Disaster Mitigation Program does not grant federal funds directly through nonprofit organizations, so Memphis-Shelby County will be responsible for assisting in the directing and monitoring of the project.