A local woman had her power turned off a month ago. Now, in these bitter temperatures, she has no heat in her home. It's so bad, her fiance's four fish tanks have frozen solid with the fish inside.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Dozens of generous KCTV5 viewers are offering to help a woman enduring the arctic blast without electricity, but the utility company has made a serious accusation involving the woman's account.
The woman has been without electricity for weeks and she owes hundreds of dollars to KCP&L.
KCTV5 featured the woman's plight Monday night. KCTV5 asked KCP&L for a comment Monday evening. The company could discuss general information on disconnections during extreme weather conditions. Because it was after hours on Monday, they were unable to discuss the specific case involving Yvonne Williams until Tuesday.
As a story about Williams went viral on social media Tuesday, KCP&L posted on KCTV5's Facebook page that someone had tampered with the woman's meter in order to get power illegally restored to the residence.
An emotional Williams denied the claim Tuesday afternoon. She told KCTV5 that neither she nor her fiance had tampered with the meter.
"Many times media stories do not cover all of the circumstances relevant to a situation," the power company wrote in the Facebook post. "In this case, not only was this premise disconnected for nonpayment, but the meter associated with the customer's account and premise had been tampered with in order to allow the premise to receive electricity without paying for it."
This statement was issued as KCP&L said donations can be made to help Williams through Redemptorist Social Services Center by calling 816-931-9942. Any donations for Williams should be made in her name to the nonprofit.
You can help those needing assistance through Project Warmth by clicking here.
On Monday, Williams told KCTV5 that she owes $970, including the reconnect fee. Her power was initially disconnected on Nov. 7. After it was illegally turned back on, it was disconnected a second time on Dec. 17.
On Tuesday, KCTV5 learned that the amount owed is closer to $1,700, when all the fees and other charges are included.
On Monday, Williams said she had no way to heat her home.
"It makes me feel like I didn't do something right," Williams said at the time.
It is so bad inside her cold, dark home that she said her fiance's four fish tanks have frozen solid with the fish inside.
"We need help. If I could, I would pay the bill," Williams said.
Williams has applied for state energy assistance and asked for help from churches and charities.
Missouri's cold weather rule didn't help Williams.
It runs from November through March. But it only prevents utility shutoffs when the temperature is expected to fall below 32 degrees in the following 24 hours.
Williams said she is one payment away from owning her home, and that she has kept up that bill, but right now she feels closer to being homeless than being a homeowner.
"I have to carry bags to change clothes every day," Williams shared.
Williams has nowhere to bring her dogs and cats, keeping them warm as best she can with sweaters and blankets.
It has been so bad, she has even been sleeping where she can with friends and at neighbors' homes, sometimes in her truck, with nothing but hand-warmers as a buffer against the cold.
"I just want to be home and have some heat," Williams said.
Williams said she's had health issues, including two recent strokes. She's been waiting on disability payments, so she's falling behind on the bills.
"The old saying is 'God don't put nothing on you that you can't bear', but this is really rough," Williams said.
It is hard to stay positive, she said, when it is hard to stay warm.
If your heat is shut off sometime outside the cold weather rule's window, utilities are not required to turn it back on once temperatures do drop below freezing.
For more information, click here for Missouri and here for Kansas.
KCP&L said they can help most people, if they let them know they are having problems before they hit the shutoff mark.
KCTV5's DeAnn Smith and Sandra Olivas contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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