Shannon is a small town in Lee County, Mississippi, with a population of 1,753. According to, the town is on Mississippi Highway 145, west of U.S. Route 45. The town got its name from Samuel Shannon, who purchased the land in the early 1800s. Through the following years, the town began to form and grow.

In 1970, Old Union Water System (OUWA) Inc. came to town and began providing water to the town. The system has three staff members and serves approximately 3,806 customers. In May of 2021, OUWA reached out to Communities Unlimited (CU) with concerns about their aging generator. Since the generator is over fifty years old, old components needed replacing.

Shannon town sign
The town of Shannon will soon be replacing a generator that's over 50 years old

Through the years, the community has endured tornadoes and other significant events that have left them with no power. During these outages, they started getting creative to find things to make it work. However, it was not enough.

CU’s Mississippi State Coordinator, Traci McQuary, assisted the system as they began completing the grant application with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) to get assistance with purchasing a new generator. Traci reviewed the generator proposal and the grant guidelines and then completed and submitted a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Designation of Applicants Agent to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

During the next few weeks, Traci communicated by email with LaTonya Rankin, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Grants Specialist with MEMA, and Jeni Henderson, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Area Assistant, to discuss loan terms. She also worked with CUs, Director of Lending Bryn Bagwell, to find the refinance options for the system’s two existing USDA loans.

Traci spent the next few months assisting the system with the application and other paperwork. She made several calls back-in-forth with the different agencies. In July of 2021, Traci corresponded with OUWA to explain FEMA’s grant match for the BRIC program and discuss the CU loan with them. The CU loan is reimbursable through FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant funds. FEMA requires OUWA to pay for the generator out of their funds, and FEMA will reimburse a percentage of the generator costs. OUWA did have enough funds in savings to cover the additional cost, and the CU loan will be the remaining reimbursable potion. Traci worked with the system to finalize the paperwork and application details.

OUWA closed on its loan on September 28, 2022. They will use the loan proceeds to purchase a backup generator to operate the water system during times of power outages.

Traci worked hard to assist OUWA with getting their community the future it needs.

“It truly makes a difference when you can change a community; if left on their own, they may never do it,” Tracy said.

With a new generator, OUWA will be able to serve its customers more effectively.