Power Surge Update

By: Kelly Creswell Email
By: Kelly Creswell Email

It's 20 degrees warmer than it was just days ago when an ice storm coated the Valley, but some people are still feeling the affects of that wintry weather.

In parts of Harrisonburg, residents weren't only left without power. A surge of voltage also fried appliances, and some residences have to pay for new computers and televisions out of their own pockets.

"The electric went off, and it was off for about two minutes, and then it came back on and I thought well, everything was okay, but then my oldest daughter came to the bedroom and said, 'Mom the TV is smoking,'" says Wanda Wright, whose property was damaged in the power surge.

Unfortunately for the Wright household, that wasn't the only thing that was smoking. Wright's computer, printer, and VCR were all also fried by the power surge. Since Friday's events are being considered an act of God, Harrisonburg Electric says it isn't responsible for damaged appliances.

"Most of the time when you start making payments is when you have negligence, and that's a whole lot different in an ice storm which is beyond your controls. You put everything up to construction standards and then Mother Nature took over," says Mike York, the General Manager of Harrisonburg Electric Commission.

However, if you have your own insurance policy, an insurance agent says you probably are covered.

"If you're the tenant and you have a what's called a renter's policy, you should have coverage out of your renter's policy for your personal property that was damaged by the power surge," says Mark Thompson, an agent from Rockingham Group Insurance.

Since Wright doesn't have renter's insurance, the money for all of her new appliances will have come straight from her wallet.

"Being a single mom, working two jobs, you work to pay your bills, you know. You can't go out here and buy a TV or a new computer just any day out of the week, so I'll be more prepared next time," says Wright.

Thompson says you should also check the details of your insurance coverage. Some policies are settled on a cash-value basis and others are settled on a replacement basis.

Thompson recommends a replacement policy, even though it costs a little more at first. In this type of situation, he says it's worth it.

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