Gene Williams missed his payment because he was in the hospital having surgery. (WRDW-TV / July 5, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, July 5, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A local military veteran is finally cooling down this evening. His power was shut off, leaving him with no electricity and no air conditioning in this 99-degree heat.
Gene Williams is a Vietnam veteran who is recovering from surgery and relies on insulin twice a day. With his refrigerator off, the heat could have become a serious emergency.
"I was sitting at the kitchen table, and all of a sudden, the lights went out," Williams said.
He had just gotten home from the hospital when he realized this hot summer day was about to get even hotter.
"I've lived here in this house for 47 years and never had my power cut off. Always paid the bill," he said.
But this month was different. Williams missed his payment because he was in the hospital having surgery.
"I had to have this toe amputated because of my diabetes. My sugars were not under control," Williams explained. "It causes me problems walking and standing."
Williams borrowed the money, went to Georgia Power to pay his bill and found out the amount due had more than doubled because of late charges and reconnection fees.
"I'm not going to be able to get $400 something dollars up," he said.
One problem is that Williams is diabetic, and his insulin must be refrigerated. Plus, all of his food is going bad, too.
"It'll be hard to sleep at night .. it's so hot," Williams said.
When asked if he was planning on leaving his home for somewhere else, Williams replied, "No. I don't have anywhere else to go."
So News 12 called Georgia Power, hoping to help this Vietnam veteran who can hardly walk around his own home.
"When somebody's had as good a record as me, paying my bill, and then I come down with a little difficulty having to have my toe amputated, a few days late paying my bill, I think they ought to have a policy to help people like this. I'm just going to have to suffer ... just have to put up with it," Williams said.
It turns out that Georgia Power does have a policy for emergencies. After hearing from News 12, the company worked with the Augusta Salvation Army Project Share Program. They are helping pay Williams' bill.
We're still waiting to hear if his power is back on this evening. Williams says he is so thankful and looking forward to a cool night.
A spokesman with Georgia Power says they are always willing to help work something out if you are having trouble, but you must call before your bill is due.
You can contact their customer service at 1-888-660-5890.
If you are interested in donating to Salvation Army to help fund services like Project Share, visit SalvationArmyAugusta.org.