MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UPDATE 9/1/2020 - Memphis Light, Gas and Water has issued a moratorium on disconnections.
Not much information was released, but MLGW says the moratorium us in effect until September 14, 2020.
8/24/2020 - "There's nothing left for me to do but pray," Ange Simmons said.
The 52-year-old grandmother is stressed and nervous.
"I'm not going to get paid in time to meet their needs and will be cut off," Simmons said.
The 52-year-old home health care worker said she tested positive for COVID-19 in late June, spent weeks out of work, didn't receive unemployment benefits, and now she's behind on her August rent and MLGW bill.
"This money, if you don't have it, it's hard," Simmons said.
Simmons, and 31,000 other MLGW customers with unpaid bills, were disconnected starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning.
"Every 15 minutes, almost 400 customers are being disconnected," Gale Jones Carson with MLGW said.
Carson said those with billing cycles starting on days one through seven will be cut off Monday, followed by days eight through 14 Tuesday, and days 15 to 21 Wednesday.
Up until Monday, the utility hadn't disconnected customers with unpaid bills since March.
"If they have a smart meter, as soon as they pay, the system will reconnect them automatically," Carson said.
Carson said MLGW extended short and long-term payment options during the pandemic, in order to impact as few customers being cut off as disconnections return this week.
The utility, MIFA, and Shelby County also offer emergency assistance of up to $650 for those eligible.
"I encourage our customers to please take advantage of those dollars, because if they have been impacted by COVID they are more than likely eligible for those dollars," Carson said.
As of Monday, the MLGW spokesperson said the utility is behind $30 million in unpaid bills.
For more information on how to get help, go to: mlgw.com/covid-19.