TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – When a nearby electrical pole caught fire Tuesday morning, residents at the Colonial Village Apartments in south Tampa never thought they’d go without power for more than a few hours.
Nearly 13 hours later, families and elderly residents were panicked.
The power was gone and there were no reassurances it would be back on anytime soon. Roughly 50 people in two separate buildings were left in the dark with no heat.
“We need electricity. It’s cold today,” said resident Susie Brown. “No one was talking to us.”
When the flames began around 9 a.m., Brown smelled the smoke and wondered why anyone would barbecue on such a cold day.
“I thought, ‘what are they doing,’” she told us. “Then, I opened my sliding glass door and saw the fire. The police department and fire department were there.”
Brown snapped a few photos and hoped the flames would be out quickly.
Andrew Greene was hoping for the same outcome.
His frustrations also grew as the day went on, and as each hour passed – he became angrier.
“My wife is ill,” he told 8 On Your Side. “I don’t want to be the bad guy, but this has to be addressed. I just gave the landlord a $1,000 check for rent. I don’t have money to stay in a hotel. They aren’t giving us answers.”
That’s where the problem seemed to leave people with the cold shoulder.
“I said, ‘I’d like to talk to somebody else besides you’ and she told me, ‘I’m it,’” explained Susie. “’This is all you get.’”
Greene shook his head and pulled his jacket tighter.
“Well, it’s frustrating,” he said. “That’s why I called you. I don’t think it would have happened, if I hadn’t have given you a call, and I have to thank you for that.”
After Greene called 8 On Your Side, we visited the apartment complex several times. We were approached by a number of residents, fed up and frustrated.
“This happens all the time,” Greene added. “We’ve lost power before and it’s not a TECO problem. So, I can’t even call TECO to complain.”
Just before 5 p.m., property manager Lisa Lindsay put notes on residents’ doors delivering the following message:
“We have been working with several high voltage contractors throughout the day to resolve the lack power to your apartment building. This is not a TECO problem. A high voltage contractor utilizing a bucket truck has been hired and the problem will be resolved as soon as possible.”
However, no one was told how soon the work would be done.
“I know you guys are going get it done for me. Who’s going to get it done for me, who else but 8 On Your Side? We had to have somebody in our Tampa community to do it for us,” said Greene.
After 8 On Your Side spent time with residents, visited several apartments and spoke with management, we were assured the problem would be fixed and power would be restored.
Shortly thereafter, crews and trucks began showing up, one by one, after an entire day with no answers and no power.
That’s when the work began.
A crew member told us off camera, “This is going to be a long project, and it won’t be easy, but we’re working to get the power back on.”
“I have you to thank for that,” Greene said.
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