St George's Bay Mi'kmaq

Cape Couple left in dark


the Georgian

A broken power line trashed a Cape St. George couple's electrical equipment, but it doesn't look like they will get compensated for it.

Sylvester and Edna Benoit, of DeGras, had an electric clock and their doorbell system ruined, while their television and VCR were damaged as a result of the broken power line leading to their house.

Mr. Benoit woke up Sunday morning, Feb. 16 and discovered what seemed to be a power outage. When the lights wouldn't turn on he tried changing light bulbs but as soon as he put a new one in it would also bum out. He called his son, Jason S. Benoit, who came over and turned the power circuits off.

Later, Newfoundland Power workers told the Benoits if the power hadn't been turned off they would likely have ruined most of their electrical appliances.

The Benoits called Newfoundland Power, which responded quickly dispatching a repair crew to fix the broken line. They told the Benoits they would have to contact Newfoundland Power's head office about compensation. Mrs. Benoit called St. John's Monday and was directed to the Stephenville office. She

Sylvester and Edna Benoit at their home in DeGras.

heard from the Stephenville office Wednesday that Newfoundland Power had looked into the line break and determined they weren't responsible for the damage. The Power representative told the Benoits to try and get compensation through their house insurance.

Their insurance company, Anthony Insurance in Stephenville told the Benoits their policy didn't cover those damages. (At the time the Benoits thought their television and VCR were ruined, and estimated the cost at $ 1,500. Later they found out the TV and VCR were only damaged and could be repaired for $160.)

"So I said who in the diggins is responsible for it," said Mrs. Benoit last week. "It's not our fault the line broke. Am I supposed to get up there and check to make sure the line's allright?" Mrs. Benoit is 62 years old. Hubert Hynes, Newfoundland Power's customer relations coordinator at the Stephenville office, said the company takes responsibility for anything that occurs in the case of poor workmanship or damages when work was being done. But an investigation determined that the line was not old and the break was something beyond the company's reasonable control. The line broke in mid-span, not at the point where the company joined it to the house, probably due to high winds, ice build up and possibly salt corrosion. The break could not have been prevented by Newfoundland Power.

"If it's something within our reasonable control we make every effort to compensate," said Mr. Hynes. "In this case I feel for the customer, but it's not something we could have prevented "

Mrs. Benoit is not too impressed with Newfoundland Power or Anthony Insurance. She wonders why she is paying $500 a year in house insurance. With neither company taking responsibility, she also wonders what would have happened if the situation hadn't been corrected as quickly and their house had gone up in flames. Would they be on the street and still nobody would take responsibility?

Although it turned out the damage was not as great as they originally thought the incident gave the two senior citizens a scare when it happened. They could smell something burning as Mr. Benoit tried replacing the bulbs and were worried about their grandchild who was sleeping over. Even though they're not out as much money as they first thought, Mrs. Benoit finds the situation unfair. "It's another example of the rich staying rich and the ordinary people getting poorer."

As seen in the Georgian Newspaper, Stephenville, NL. March 14, 1995

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