JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville man fighting to protect his family and his neighborhood turns to the I-TEAM for help. His battle began eight months ago, right after Hurricane Irma hit. His concern was a utility pole that sits in his front yard -- a pole that he learned was rotten and posed a danger.
The man, who we are not identifying because of his line of work, lost power in his Arlington neighborhood during Irma, just like many others did. The storm caused the power lines to his home to droop into the street.
He said power crews from Texas, who were supervised by JEA, came into his neighborhood to help get power restored. They anchored those drooping lines to that existing pole in his front yard, a pole to which both JEA and AT&T were connected.
"The JEA crew and the Texas crew that came out (said) that the pole was rotten and it needed to be replaced," he explained.
Knowing the danger of having a rotten pole in his front yard, he started making phone calls.
"JEA said it wasn't their pole, so I contacted AT&T, which they said it was their pole," the man told the I-TEAM. "A couple of guys came out from AT&T and said, 'Yes, it is our pole. We will replace it.'"
He thought the problem was solved, but it wasn't. No one replaced the pole. So, he followed up with AT&T again.
He told the I-TEAM, "They were saying, 'This is not our pole, it’s a JEA pole. Call JEA, and don’t contact us again or we are going to bill you.'"
So, who owned the pole? He said JEA told him the pole belonged to AT&T. AT&T told him the pole belonged to JEA and would bill him if he contacted AT&T again. So, he contacted the I-TEAM.
"With hurricane season coming up, I just don’t want the pole to fall down," he said. "I'll lose power again, lose cable, internet, phone, lose everything. Everything is attached to the pole."
We reached out to JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce, and within 24 hours, JEA stepped up to the plate.
"So I figured, okay, it will be a couple of days that they will come out. Then, about four hours later, about six JEA trucks came out with a pole on it and they replaced the pole," he said.
JEA told the I-TEAM the rotting pole does belong to AT&T, but as a courtesy, JEA transferred the power lines to a brand new pole that JEA installed.
"I’m really grateful to JEA, even though it wasn't their pole, you know, to put the pole in," he said. "I’m ecstatic! Just one less thing I've got to worry about."
He said after JEA installed the new pole and transferred its power lines from the rotten pole to the new one, AT&T and Comcast came out and removed the rest of the equipment from the rotten pole. He said AT&T promised him the rotten pole -- which no longer has any utility equipment on it -- would be removed next week. (UPDATE: Two days after this I-TEAM investigation aired on TV and was published online, the rotten pole was removed.)
The I-TEAM reached out to AT&T, but a representative said due to policy, the company is unable to discuss matters involving customers. However, the representative did say if a customer has issues with its poles or any other equipment, the company does want them to contact AT&T.
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