Action 13: Woman trapped in NE Houston home for 5 days turns to Action 13 about downed lines

Rosie Nguyen Image
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Woman trapped in home for 5 days turns to Action 13 about downed lines
Natalie Washington told ABC13 that she had no way of knowing whether lines fallen in front of her house were live. She became trapped for five days.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A northeast Houston woman finally got a resolution from CenterPoint Energy on Monday afternoon after turning to Action 13 for help. She and her grandson thought they had been trapped in their house for the last five days after Thursday's storm, which caused what they believed were live power lines to fall onto their property.

According to Natalie Washington, last week's strong winds caused the utility line that hangs from the two poles on the sides of her house to spark a fire after falling onto a tree near her yard. The Houston Fire Department quickly extinguished the flames in the Settegast neighborhood on Belroit Street near Wayside Drive.

However, the 67-year-old homeowner claimed firefighters put yellow tape around her house and told her to err on the side of caution, staying away from anything touching the presumed live wires until repairs could be made.

Since then, Washington was too afraid to leave the property with her grandson or allow her husband to come back inside. She shared that she has diabetes and feared that the stress, as well as the heat, would raise her blood pressure.

SEE ALSO: Channelview mother with son on ventilator wants transparency on when power will be restored

"The firefighters told me not to touch my front gate or walk around because I don't know where the electric current is flowing. I'm too terrified. I'm not going to even try it," Washington said. "When you know you're trapped somewhere and you don't have an option to leave, it breaks you down. All my husband could do is sit on the street and talk to me while I'm sitting on the porch."

As of Monday, the wires could still be seen draping across her driveway, fence, mailbox, and part of her yard. Washington said she and her family members called CenterPoint dozens of times since Thursday, but they had not received an answer about when crews would respond.

Within 90 minutes of Action 13 reaching out, CenterPoint crews visited her property to make repairs.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, a spokesperson with CenterPoint Energy wrote, "We sent a crew on site. They assessed the situation and determined the downed wire is a telecommunications line and not a live electric line. Restoration work is underway to restore the outage affecting this customer."

READ MORE: CenterPoint restores power to nearly 700,000 customers in Houston, aims to be complete by Wednesday

Crews on-site told ABC13 that firefighters and neighbors wouldn't be able to distinguish a cable wire from a power line just by looking at it. Washington expressed that either way, she's relieved that their lights are back on and her family can finally come and go as they please.

"I went from crying to a big smile when I saw CenterPoint show up. The only reason they're here is because of your help. That's the only reason we know that they came because other than that, I would still be here probably another five days," Washington said.

For more on this story, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, X and Instagram.