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AEP Ohio to provide financial assistance for residents impacted by power outages

AEP utility workers were out Wednesday morning at East Jenkins and Parsons avenues, working on electric lines as much of the neighborhood dealt with outages. Numerous residents approached the workers to talk about the outages.
Renee Fox
/
WOSU
AEP utility workers were out Wednesday morning at East Jenkins and Parsons avenues, working on electric lines as much of the neighborhood dealt with outages. Numerous residents approached the workers to talk about the outages.

AEP Ohio now says that it will work to provide financial assistance to residents who lost food and other supplies during a power outage earlier this week.

AEP said transmission lines in northern and southwest Columbus that bring power into the city were damaged on Monday by severe weather. The remaining transmission lines had become overloaded, which caused AEP to turn off power to targeted areas.

The company said it is partnering with Columbus Urban League, IMPACT Community Action, Lifecare Alliance and the Mid-Ohio Food Collective and will provide $1 million from the AEP Ohio Fund of the Columbus Foundation to help relieve the financial burdens of residents.

AEP also said assistance is available through Franklin County Job and Family Service Food Assistance Program and the Neighbor to Neighbor Program.

Prior to this decision, some Columbus City Council members were outraged after first learning that AEP had refused to help those in need. Councilman Rob Dorans said thousands of residents have contacted him about their struggles to replace spoiled food. He said he received an email from AEP Ohio Thursday afternoon, days after the power outages started, in which AEP said they would not be reimbursing customers.

“The only time they’re contacting a councilman is days afterward, and it’s just to tell you about how they’re going to not support the community,” said Dorans. “ I think that speaks a lot about the frustration that residents and customers have if they’re not even being upfront and formal with local government officials.”

Dorans said with temperatures rising he is hoping that the PUCO, AEP Ohio and community leaders can come together and figure out what kind of notification is needed for residents. He also said city council will need to discuss taking specific action for crises that cause severe problems for communities.

“What do we need to do as a city to prepare ourselves to help mitigate some of the worst outcomes from a situation like this by supporting our residents? Whether that’s food assistance or additional cooling centers or having a plan in place and ready to go to support folks when and if this happens again,” sad Dorans.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio said it will conduct a review of the widespread outages that left hundreds of thousands of AEP Ohio customers without power this week.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.