It was going to be a cold winter for Miguel Ramirez.
Last month the retired 59-year-old former pressman had done just about everything he could possibly do to get his broken furnace inside of his Manteca home replaced. He tried programs and subsidies and made phone call after phone call – all hoping that somebody on the other end of the line or somebody holding his application would see his situation and lend a hand.
Nothing was working. So after months of getting the run-around, he made a few phone calls to local media outlets to see if anybody would be willing to try and the raise profile on his request, hoping that somebody from PG&E’s corporate San Francisco office would take notice.
And it worked.
Within two days of a story about his plight appearing in The Bulletin, Ramirez had a contracted crew from the Placerville-based Air Tech performing the necessary repairs to make sure that he, his daughter and his granddaughter don’t spend the frigid winter months freezing.
“Everybody that I talked to from that point forward were all helpful and they were all willing to do what they could,” said Ramirez – who had tried a number of discount and repair programs through the power and provider to no avail. “I didn’t think that anything was going to work and then I got the phone call and two days later the guys from Air Tech were out here fixing what was broken.
“In the end it took the involvement of other people to get this done but there’s a happy ending – they realized that we have seniors and children living here and it was something that was necessary and I’m thankful for the people who stepped up to help.”
The entire ordeal could have been deadly.
Ramirez said that he first noticed a problem when he smelled something that wasn’t quite right, and when a crew came out to inspect the furnace that determined that a cracked housing was sending fumes straight through the vent and throughout the house. The temporary solution was to simply cap the gas line, but attempts at getting a repair, he said, were futile.
Even though he was already a participant in a program that had upgraded portions of his home to be more energy efficient, finding a solution to the gas line situation – which could have built up deadly carbon monoxide – appeared to be something that was unattainable.
A single phone call from a staffer from the San Francisco office changed everything.
“There was a lady that called me, her name was Laverne Mitchell, and she really helped get the ball rolling and let me know that they were going to take care of me,” Ramirez said. “That’s what we were hoping for all along but thankfully it all worked out and tomorrow the city is supposed to come and signoff on the work and everything will be back to the way that it was before I noticed the problem.
“I’m just happy that the safety and the welfare of my family were taken into consideration here. I’m a retiree on a fixed income so I’m definitely grateful.”