Senior citizen waiting on heat repair gets relief after contacting FOX 46

As temperatures drop, a Charlotte senior citizen, who has been without heat for months, is now warm once again, after contacting FOX 46 for results. 

"I'm just very thankful," Marsha Hooks, 68, told the service manager, shaking his hand.  "I appreciate it very much. From the bottom of my heart."

Hooks lives with her daughter, who is her live-in caretaker, and lives off of Social Security. She says she is in poor health and struggles to get by financially. 

"Do you sometimes choose between medication and food?," asked FOX 46 reporter Matt Grant.

"Mm-hmm," said Hooks. "I do." 

Last year, Hooks was approved for a federal grant to replace her aging furnace. Blue Ridge Community Action, a non-profit that helps low income families, received the grant money and contracted Rutherford Heating & Air to do the job.

"Oh man it was cold," said Hooks, describing the lack of heat in her modest home. "It was like walking in a freezer."

Rutherford Heating & Air replaced her furnace and promised to fix leaking ductwork. The company was reimbursed through the grant money. 

However, Hooks, who has to use oxygen at night, says her home still wouldn't heat and was too cold to sleep in her own bed. 

"It was just awful," said Hooks. "I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. My anxiety level was just off the wall."

Hooks says when she called the company to come back she was told it would cost around $350 to fix leaking ductwork, which prevented her home from fully heating. She was also hit with an $80 bill to diagnose a problem she says the company previously promised to fix for free. 

"I was so upset and sick I didn't know what to do," she said. "And that's when I called you [FOX 46]."

Less than 24 hours after FOX 46 alerted Rutherford Heating & Air, the company was out at Hooks' home to make things right. 

"We found out the news was involved, we definitely wanted to turn this around," said service manager Norman Cole. "And show a positive impact."

Cole blames miscommunication and missing paperwork on their end for the "error made."

"Somehow or another it was missed," he admitted. "So we were prompt in getting out here to take care of what we should have taken care of in the beginning."

Cole said fixing the issue immediately was a "high priority" to the company.

"It was something we said we were going to do," said Cole. "So we want to make sure we stand by that."

After some repair work, Hooks got her heat back and immediately felt the difference.

"I know it's fixed," she said, standing in front of a bedroom she says she couldn't even sleep in because it was too cold. "And I'm just happy to have heat now."

"It's FOX 46 that stepped in and got this taken care of for me," said Hooks. "And I'm very pleased. Very happy."

Blue Ridge Community Action told FOX 46 that were "not aware" that Hooks had any problems with the initial repair from its contractor. 

"We were not notified by the client nor the contractor and were not privy to any subsequent conversations she may have had with our contractor," said energy director Shawna Hanes. 

Hanes could not say how much grant money the non-profit receives annually.