Power still not restored 4 months after TECO surge, Tampa family living in hotel

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa family was forced out of their home and into a hotel room after a power surge in January destroyed their wiring system, leaving them without electricity. It’s been four months, and the family is still waiting to move back into their home, which they say has become more dilapidated with each passing day after a series of break-ins and vandalism incidents.

Tampa Electric Company (TECO) has accepted responsibility for the power surge, which caused extensive damage to Jessie Scott’s house on North Florence Avenue, but despite TECO being held somewhat accountable, Scott’s power still hasn’t been restored.

“Nothing electrical works, it fried everything,” said Ms. Scott, who tells Target 8 she’s running out of patience and money.

“At this point, we’ve spent literally every dime we had in savings,” Scott continued.

According to TECO’s Cherie Jacobs, the electric company paid thousands in March to replace the wiring in the house.

“This is one of the claims with the more extensive damage,” explained Ms. Jacobs. “We did work with Ms.Scott from the beginning. We have been waiting on some paperwork, which we received on Friday and we have our team looking at this case and evaluating and hope to resolve it shortly.”

To replace the wiring, TECO needed to rip the house’s walls apart. The house still needed to be drywalled. Without drywall, there can’t be any outlets. Without outlets, the Scott’s are left without power.

Scott says looters nearby went wild when Code Enforcement placed an order to vacate sign on the front of the home.

“Then it became a free for all and everyone started breaking in,” said Scott. “They stole everything, they busted out every window. They wrote all over the walls, wrote all over the floors, destroyed our clothing, destroyed my kids’ toys, I mean we basically really have nothing left. They ripped my sink out of the wall, broke my dishes.”

Left with little money to take care of her pets, Scott ended up surrendering her dogs to the county. She says when she visits them, she leaves the shelter in tears.

“It’s hard seeing them locked up in a cage and not being able to take them home with me. And they don’t understand because they’re dogs, so they cry and it’s definitely one of the hardest things I’ve been through,” said Scott.

TECO says they just received the necessary claim forms from Jessie to move forward with the repairs, and that they still need receipts for the stolen items. Scott claims those receipts were in her safe, which was stolen. She also tells us the electric company wants her to check her damaged appliances to determine if they work and if they were destroyed by the surge, which she says is difficult to do without electricity.

“We don’t necessarily have a lot, but what we have we’ve worked very hard to get,” sobbed Jessie. “Watching people come in and so callously destroy what you fought to give your kids, destroys you.”

If you have a problem you think needs to be investigated contact our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808 or contact Steve at sandrews@wfla.com.

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