News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, May 6, 2013
APPLING, Ga. (WRDW) -- Wind, fire, rain and squirrels. They're all "acts of God" that can all cause some serious damage. If you're not protected, you can find yourself praying for a miracle.
"Almost everything in my house is broken," Ann Gay said.
It's a fight against nature where no one wins. For Gay, it started with a squirrel and ended with sparks in her kitchen.
"They came out from just right here. They just shot out as I walked in here, and of course, I immediately screamed and ran like a coward," she said pointing to her oven.
It was a power surge caused by a squirrel chewing on a power line, and now all her appliances are fried.
"My heating and air conditioning system is broken. My stove is broken. The light in my kitchen is broken. My television is broken," she said.
The list doesn't end there. Jefferson Energy's Steve Chalker says, unfortunately, this is not uncommon.
"Squirrels have their own category in our outage reporting," he said.
He explained, "When this neutral is broken, the voltage is unbalanced when it goes into the house, so it may be getting too much. May not be getting enough."
Just last year, Jefferson Energy had 158 outages due to squirrels alone. Another 38 were caused by birds, and 221 outages were because of lightning.
"Unfortunately we cannot control the weather, and we cannot control what animals do. It's unfortunate when these things happen," Chalker said.
That's where homeowner's or renter's insurance comes in.
"Those are really the only two ways to ensure that no matter what happens -- fire, tornado -- that you're covered and your items are taken care of. Fire, wind, acts of God, things like that, things that are out of your control," insurance agent Austin Taylor said.
Without homeowner's insurance, Gay's praying for another act of God, this time in her favor.
"I live on a fixed income. I had to decide between that and taking life sustaining insulin, and I chose to take the insulin. So, I do not have homeowner's, so I have no way to replace all of this," she said.
A utility company is not liable for these "acts of God" like storm damage, or in this case, squirrels, but if there is some sort of negligence of maintenance on the wires or lack of preventative steps the electric company would be liable.
One thing to look out for: If you see a significant difference in your lights dimming or getting brighter, there could be an improper flow of voltage into your house, meaning you'd want to call right away.
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