WASHINGTON TERRACE -- Power outages may be a necessary annoyance on occasions when maintenance of lines is required, but at least one Washington Terrace resident believes that lack of electricity will be life-threatening.
William Kershaw, a Vietnam War veteran who has had Type 2 diabetes since his service period, requires an oxygen generator to maintain his breathing. The generator operates on electricity, and the power outage, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, will render his machine incapable of providing the support he needs.
"I received a postcard in the mail from Rocky Mountain Power about the outage, and I called to ask what to do, because I am oxygen-dependent 24/7. I need to be on maximum flow to support my oxygen use. I was told I need to go stay with a friend or family, and when I tried to explain that I don't have the ability to haul my machine and then bring it back, I just got the same answer over and over again. It was a vicious cycle, and they refused to offer any alleviation at all," Kershaw said.
Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Margaret Oler confirms that the company does not offer financial support in situations like this.
"We do not cover that. That's why we give them notice, so that people can get other services and make arrangements. Someone with a specific medical condition could speak with their doctor or service provider and come up with a backup plan," Oler said.
Kershaw was facing the prospect of spending $300-$450 to have a temporary portable generator installed in his home during the outage.
That was until Washington Terrace's City Manager Tom Hanson stepped in.
"We care a lot about our veterans and servicemen, and we try to help whenever we can. I'm happy to direct Mr. Kershaw to some resources that might be helpful," Hanson said.
Hanson contacted Capt. Earl Simmons, a community covenant officer who helps provide services to veterans. Simmons has arranged for Kershaw to have an oxygen generator set up in his home during the time construction is being done.
"We try to help out, whether it's with employment or just giving people a ride when they need it. We probably get cases like this a couple times a week, and we need to direct them to the right avenues," Simmons said.
The outage will affect residents from 4300 South to 4600 South and 300 East to 300 West.