Woman, grandson confined for five days after being wrongly told live power lines fell on their property

Stephen Nartey May 23, 2024
Natalie Washington/Photo credit: ABC13 Houston

A Texas woman, Natalie Washington, and her grandson were confined to their home for five days after what they believed were live power lines fell on their property during a storm. The 67-year-old woman was locked in the house after rainstorms brought a utility line down across their property.

The incident, which occurred last Thursday in Houston, ignited a fire by a nearby tree, leaving them without power, according to ABC13. The Houston Fire Department responded promptly to the fire caused by downed power lines at Washington’s home, extinguishing the flames and advising her to avoid the possibly live wires.

Firefighters placed yellow tape around the property, which made Washington too fearful to leave or let her husband re-enter. Despite her urgent requests for assistance, utility companies failed to respond, leaving her trapped in her home for nearly a week over fears she would be electrocuted if she ventured outside.

Washington, who has diabetes, said she was worried that the stress and heat from being trapped in her home would raise her blood pressure. Speaking to ABC13, she said: “The firefighters told me not to touch my front gate or walk around because I don’t know where the electric current is flowing.

“I’m too terrified. I’m not going to even try it. When you know you’re trapped somewhere and you don’t have an option to leave, it breaks you down. All my husband could do is sit on the street and talk to me while I’m sitting on the porch.”

Images captured Monday show wires draped across Washington’s driveway, front fence, and yard. Washington said she called CenterPoint Energy dozens of times before they finally responded. Repair crews determined the fallen line was a telecommunications cable, not a live power line.

Crews told ABC13 that firefighters couldn’t have distinguished between a cable wire and a power line. In a statement, they said: “We sent a crew on site. They assessed the situation and determined the downed wire is a telecommunications line and not a live electric line. Restoration work is underway to restore the outage affecting this customer.”

Washington is now relieved to have her power restored and her family safely back on the property.

Last week’s severe weather left nearly 1 million people in Houston without power. By Monday, over 350,000 households were still without electricity.

The devastating Thursday thunderstorm shattered windows, downed trees, and resulted in at least seven deaths, according to Daily Mail. As the new week began with temperatures soaring to around 90 degrees, thousands of homes faced sweltering conditions due to power outages.

High-voltage transmission towers were destroyed and power lines were damaged, plunging many into darkness. CenterPoint deployed over 7,000 workers for round-the-clock restoration efforts.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 23, 2024


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