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Owner of Jackson's Nite Lite blames Consumers Energy for water damage. Utility officials disagree.

Nite Lite
Nite Lite
Posted at 5:10 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 17:10:32-04

JACKSON, Mich. — The owner of a downtown Jackson restaurant say a mistake by an electrical contractor working for Consumers Energy has flooded his basement, forcing him to close his business for the past several week.

It's a charge that Consumers denies.

Owner Joe Brandeberry says a contractor working for Consumers Energy came out to bury electrical lines near the Nite Lite at 145 W. Pearl St. in early July.

“When they open the hole up it was the length of my building by 20 yards deep and 10 yards wide. It rained seven out of the 10 days that hole was open,” he said.

Brandeberry says that the hole was up against the building and was wide open the entire time it rained.

Nite Lite

“After it rained the first time that was a small flood in the basement, right,” Brandeberry said. “We had to take all our food product down, get rid of everything, shut down for a few days, send everybody home, clean up and go through all this mess drying it up with the remediation company."

About a week later, he said, "they ripped up even more in the back and water just poured in like a waterfall.”

The Nite Lite hasn’t been open since. A remediation company showed them they had 99.9 percent humidity behind the bar. Brandeberry had to take apart the bar which he described as “absolutely beautiful and one of the reasons” they purchased Nite Lite.

“You start taking it off piece by piece to try to dry behind it and that was right up against the alleyway where the hole was left by the local utility company and it just crumbled,” Brandeberry said. “It was an older bar and so you know it's one long run when you start taking it apart you just can't get it out so it was really unfortunate.”

With lost food and lost revenue, he’s looking for some answers from Consumers Energy.

“The subcontractor had sent an adjuster,” Brandeberry said. “The adjuster is the one that shared with us and asked us to go ahead and remediate the water. The remediation company was here and told him what to do. They send other people in and told us to get out and open up the bar on the bottom to try drying it out. Then all of a sudden they pulled this person back and said they had no legal liability. So, yeah, I’m getting the runaround.”

Nite Lite

Brandeberry says he contacted the Jackson Downtown Development Authority who helped get him in contact with Consumers Energy’s Community Affairs Office.

“She said don’t worry about it, Joe. We’re going to take care of it. We have a fund for that. There’s nothing you have to do. You don’t have to even turn this in. Your insurance company will take care of it 100 percent and I haven’t heard from them since.”

But Consumers says they're not responsible for the flooding.

“Consumers Energy and our contractor met with this restaurant’s owner and were told multiple times that flooding has been ongoing historically at this location," Consumers Energy spokesperson Brian Wheeler said in a written statement. "We have made adjustments to our project work at the owner’s request to help alleviate this problem. We are confident the Pearl Street work did not contribute to the owner’s situation and have encouraged him to work with his insurer.”

The subcontractor, Corby Energy Services, did not respond to requests for comment.

Brandeberry is grateful that he has the ability to open back up, which he hopes to do in early September.

In the meantime, Brandeberry is putting in other investments in his restaurant. He says he’s just looking for Consumers to do the right thing.

“They’re a pillar in our community. They do a nice job. They helped us during COVID providing lunches for their people,” Brandeberry said. “We were operating perfectly fine before they showed up and did some construction outside that affected our building. We wouldn’t be shut down if it wasn’t for that. I need them to step up and help.”

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