Disabled veteran gets power restored after lightning strike weeks ago

Local News

DONNA, Texas (KVEO) — For over a week, Denny Griffin sat in his truck waiting and hoping that that day would be the day AEP Texas finally turned his power back on.

Lighting from a storm knocked out the transformer that supplies power to his home on May 27. AEP Texas moved to replace it, but couldn’t turn the power back on until everything was inspected, which took some time.

Griffin is a disabled Army veteran that requires a wheelchair to get around his house and property. On top of that he requires supplemental oxygen to breathe normally.

Griffin has had to relay on three portable oxygen machines since he couldn’t use his normal oxygen machine because it was too hot in his home to stay inside without the power on.

Since the day Griffin’s power went out, temperatures have frequently been in the mid 90s and above, and without air conditioning or fans inside the house, the thermometer on the wall has shown just how hot its become inside the home.

When KVEO visited Griffin’s home, the temperature inside the house was 86 degrees, causing Griffin and his wife to look for other options.

“I’m just sitting in this hot truck,” said Griffin when asked where he waited for an AEP Texas employee to come restore his power. “I try to keep my oxygen machine and everything going cause its running off of this truck and this is where we’ve been sleeping because they won’t come give us power.”

Griffin had been told that in order for his power to be turned back on, he needed to get inspections done by the city and the county to make sure everything was up to code.

Those were completed, and AEP Texas was supposed to have his power restored within six days, but it wasn’t.

Griffin had told everyone, the county, the city, and AEP Texas, that his three portable oxygen machines had small batteries, and only lasted around an hour before dying. Because of that, he asked for the inspections to happen as quickly as possible so he could get his power back and go back to using his larger, better, non-portable machine in the house.

“The only people that asked for expedited service was the inspector in Donna,” said Griffin, fighting back tears. “He did. He tried to get it. But AEP don’t care.”

Griffin told KVEO that AEP Texas was supposed to have his power back on no later than six days after the inspections were completed. But they didn’t.

The city of Donna completed its inspection on June 7, but it wasn’t until June 18 that Griffin’s power was restored.

When asked if AEP Texas had given him an explanation as to why it took them so long to restore his power, Griffin said “not at all.”

Earlier in the morning on the 18th, he had been told by AEP Texas that they didn’t know when his power would be restored.

In fact, Griffin said the only reason he even got his power turned on was because he spotted an AEP Texas truck in his neighborhood and flagged them down in order to turn his power back on.

“It took him 16 minutes to take my meter and disconnect everything. So in all this time, they couldn’t give me 15 minutes?” asked Griffin. He gestured to his legs, on which he had just had surgery recently, and said “I gave body parts, and they said ‘thank you for your service’. Really?”

Griffin told KVEO he was warned that the county could potentially turn his power back off if he didn’t show them the proper letter of approvals from the water company and AT&T, who have service lines nearby.

After his three week ordeal, Griffin was just happy to have his power back on.

Griffin didn’t seem confident that Hidalgo County wouldn’t still challenge him on the approval letters.

“Oh they are not done with me,” he said in a text message.

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