The 901: Snowstorm hammers area, closing schools and vaccination sites; site set up for rental help
Good morning from Memphis, where we are in the lull between two storms that covered the area in a mix of sleet and snow Monday, leaving roads slick and sent kids to whatever hill they could find.
While the snowfall Monday might have seemed like a lot, it likely didn't set records, as our Corinne Kennedy reports. Areas of Memphis received up to 5 inches as of mid-afternoon, not near the record of 14.2 inches, set in December 1963
Samantha Wright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Memphis said the intense and prolonged snow and cold were a rare occurrence for the Mid-South.
The forecast for Tuesday includes a Wind Chill Advisory with temperatures dipping near zero and feeling like -15 degrees.
Need to find a shovel to get rid of the snow, a heater to get warm or covers to insulate faucets? That might be hard to do, our Ryan Poe reports.
Whitten Brothers Hardware Co. in Orange Mound ran out of ice melt, kerosene, electric heaters, and propane tanks by Monday morning.
Hubbards, which has locations in Frayser and Southaven, is getting a shipment of winter products Tuesday.
Vaccination sites closed
In addition to most school districts being closed or in virtual learning Tuesday, COVID-19 vaccinations at Shelby County Health Department have also had to close as a result of the snow and cold temperatures, Corinne Kennedy reports.
The health department confirmed Monday vaccine sites would remain closed Tuesday and said appointments scheduled for Feb. 16 would be rescheduled for a later day. A decision about whether vaccine sites will open Wednesday will be made by 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The health department said Monday it was providing "essential services only" due to the weather. Moving forward, it was unclear what services would resume when.
"Shelby County Health Department is closely monitoring developing weather conditions and will make decisions regarding operations on a day-to-day basis during inclement weather," the department said in an email.
Some SCS workers get vaccine
The cold temperatures didn't stop hundreds of Shelby County Schools employees from showing up at the district offices on Hollywood to get the vaccine.
The Shelby County Health Department took 1,200 doses at risk of being discarded and allocated 900 to SCS and 300 to municipal schools, our Laura Testino reported.
"If we have vaccine that we know needs to be utilized, we really need to...strive to get it into one of the priority groups, and do that in an organized way," said Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter. "And that sometimes may mean that you step into another phase to be able to use that vaccine."
As for the municipal school districts, confusion led to superintendents registering teachers only to be told logistics and staffing would prevent the doses from being administered.
City of Memphis to manage Pipkin Building
Following multiple instances of long lines plaguing distribution efforts, management of the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Pipkin building will be taken over by the City of Memphis, our Michael Watts reports.
The change was announced by Haushalter and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. The city is expected to assume leadership of the Pipkin site by the end of the week.
"The City of Memphis continues to stand ready to help in the fight against this virus in any way we can," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in a statement on Monday. "Stepping in to help the Shelby County Health Department at the Pipkin Building vaccination site is just another example of that. We’ve been successfully operating the Appling vaccination site for few weeks now, and we’ll implement the same strategy at Pipkin.”
Tuesday paper will be delivered
For the second straight day, the severe winter storm moving through the Mid-South will result in the printed edition of The Commercial Appeal not being delivered.
Subscribers can access the eEdition of The Commercial Appeal by clicking here.
Significant snow and ice between Memphis and our printing facility in Jackson, Mississippi, have made travel dangerous and delivery of the papers to Memphis impossible. For the safety of our delivery drivers, we decided not to attempt delivery overnight. The Monday and Tuesday papers will be delivered with Wednesday's edition, weather permitting.
Applications for home assistance open March 1
Those seeking assistance will fill out a form and state their need along with proof that the pandemic has either directly or indirectly, impacted their ability to pay.
The money given separately to the city and county — $19.5 sent to the city and $8.6 million to Shelby County — is being pooled to make it easier for people to find and extend the impact of the funds.
“We recognize that, when people are seeking relief, going to different organizations and trying to figure out ‘am I city or am I county? Can I find this program or that program?’ is really a barrier in folks getting served and so we recognized the opportunity that we had to really get rid of that barrier through a single application,” said Dorcas Young Griffin, the county’s director of community services.
Kids out of school weren't the only ones to enjoy sliding on the snow. Video from the Memphis Zoo shows Le Le sliding around the ice in the zoo's panda enclosure.
Can the Tigers make the tourney?
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi told our Jason Munz that the Tigers’ bid for the bubble is well within reach and at-large consideration boils down to one key factor.
“They are not getting an at-large bid without beating Houston, period,” he said, referencing the 6th-ranked Cougars. “As we speak, I have them in the ‘Work to do’ category. They can get on the bubble without beating Houston. But they’re not getting in without (beating Houston).”
The Tigers have had three straight games postponed, but are scheduled to host Temple on Sunday at FedExForum.
UofM women's basketball coach retires
Melissa McFerrin, the University of Memphis women's basketball coach for the past 13 seasons has retired effective immediately, our Evan Barnes reports.
McFerrin, 60, was in the final year of her contract and was the subject of an outside investigation in 2019 into the program after several former players accused her of harassment and verbal abuse.
“I have coached my entire career with personal and professional goals in alignment,” said McFerrin in a school release. “But things change over time. I remained at Memphis the past two seasons to see the renovation of Elma Roane Fieldhouse completed and to coach a group of young women in which I have a tremendous belief."
Dann Miller is the senior consumer experience director for The Memphis Commercial Appeal. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @dannmiller.