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Denver7 viewers help single mom pay rent after weeklong power outage

Posted at 3:23 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 19:25:30-04

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AURORA, Colo. — Tara Smith and her two kids spent more than a week without power, eating cold hot dogs and sandwiches, using battery packs to power their lives. After she missed work during that time, the apartment complex still charged her a full month’s rent. When they wouldn’t budge on the issue, despite being responsible for the outage, Denver7 viewers stepped up to help.

“It felt like weeks,” Smith told Contact7, pointing out her electricity was out from June 10 through the 19.

When she called Xcel Energy in front of Contact7’s Jason Gruenauer, an agent told her the power was turned off due to “safety reasons.” City records show the electrical box at Tara’s unit was inspected by Aurora inspectors on June 18, the day before it was turned back on.

The company who owns the townhome complex, Advenir at Del Arte, would not comment to Contact7. Instead, they sent Tara a bill for a full month’s rent, despite her lack of power.

“I couldn’t work while the power was out. You can’t leave children unattended,” Smith said. “I drive for Lyft and Uber and you just can’t do that.”

Two Denver7 viewers heard Tara’s story air on Tuesday and reached out offering help. Within an hour of putting up a GoFundMe, the $1,000 goal was met by a single anonymous donor.

“I’m just shocked. I’m completely shocked,” Tara said through tears. “You wouldn’t expect for complete strangers to help out. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

She plans on paying her rent in full on July 1, and moving on from her power troubles for good.

“Everything just catches back up and we’re back to square one, slate clean and we’ll move on. You guys are awesome!” she said with a smile.