KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A 96-year-old woman who lives in Wyandotte County has been alone in the dark for over three weeks after the driver of a truck hit her house. Since FOX 4’s first story aired, one generous viewer offered to help, but one important part remains unfinished.
She’s patient, but others around Mary Winchell say she’s being bullied. Several volunteer groups are helping her get by while she waits for the Board of Public Utilities to throw the switch.
“I’ve always been a patient person. Honest to God,” Winchell told FOX 4’s Sean McDowell.
She says on April 11 her home went dark after a crash knocked her electric meter loose. A BPU spokesperson told FOX 4 that the utility hasn’t restored the power because her home wasn’t up to code.
“I would appreciate it if they turned on the lights. I’m not going to grouch at them,” Winchell said. “I’ve been patient with them, and I guess they’ve been patient with me.
Her friends say she’s been living in darkness — surviving on Powerbars and oatmeal — and using only a cheap flip-phone to call for help. Fortunately, volunteers came to her aid.
Serg Electrical, and its co-owner Sergio Cervantes, has replaced all electrical equipment between the house and the power pole, bringing the home up to code. He won’t accept a dime for the work, saying he’d normally be paid about $4,000 for a similar job.
“It’s no big deal to me. It’s money. I’d rather have Miss Mary living comfortably in her home,” Cervantes said.
The hard work continues for Janice Witt and her husband Ron. They lead a non-profit called the Reola Grant Center — offering help to neighbors who are enduring hard times. Witt says BPU needs to help Winchell get the lights illuminated.
“They don’t take care of the community. They don’t care for the people they’re supposed to represent, as far as our city that’s supposed to take care of the old folks, who are supposed to be safe,” Witt said.
FOX 4 news put in a series of calls to the BPU public relations office on Thursday — but they weren’t returned. Cervantes says the house is ready to reconnect anytime.