Mississippians make the best of icy lockdown

Published 10:18 pm Wednesday, February 17, 2021

A University of Mississippi Medical Center emergency room nurse, Matt Harris, and one of his former colleagues, Tony Sistrunk, stopped on Interstate 55 in Jackson on Wednesday and spent more than an hour using Harris’s pickup truck and a strap to pull cars that couldn’t gain traction on the icy roadway.

“I felt like I was mud-riding back in the day with my brother and his friends, and having to pull people out of the mud,” Harris said in a news release from the medical center.

Many people in Mississippi remained home because some schools and businesses were closed.

“The side benefit is, I do think that this is going to help drive down our COVID numbers,” said the state’s chief health official, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “This is kind of a forced shelter-in-place sort of scenario.”

Approximately 150,000 utility customers were in the dark in Mississippi as of late Wednesday night. One of the largest utility providers, Entergy, had rolling blackouts and implored customers to reduce their use of electricity. In some places, temperatures were not predicted to go much above freezing for an extended period until Friday.

For some, the weather prompted acts of charity.

In Clinton, Mississippi, Army veteran Evelyn Fletcher spent the last few days cooking all the food in her house to make plates to deliver to sidelined truck drivers, travelers and people staying at hotels because they lost power at home.

“They’re stranded, they’re isolated — people are in need of support right now,” Fletcher said.

On Monday, Fletcher made 85 meals. On Tuesday, a local restaurant, T’Beaux’s Crawfish and Catering, cooked 75 plates of shrimp and gumbo for her and other volunteers to deliver and she made 30 plates of her own. On Wednesday morning, Fletcher was cooking a pot of turkey noodle soup so she could go out again and deliver another 70 meals as the weather allowed.

“People are worried about more snow,” she said. “We are going to keep people fed and keep them feeling hopeful.”