Ottley Hall family shaken by lightning bolt
July 17, 2009
Ottley Hall family shaken by lightning bolt

An Ottley Hall family is counting its lucky stars after escaping unscathed from a lightning bolt that struck their house roof and sent a surge of electricity throughout the building.{{more}}

Laura Garraway was at her home on Sunday, June 5th, 2009, with her family, while heavy rains poured.

Recounting the incident, Laura said: “I heard a big explosion in the house just about 10:30 a.m. I was in my bedroom folding some clothes when this explosion frightened everybody. I’ve never heard anything like that in my life. It was really heavy.”

The shaken occupants of the home, who were reportedly engulfed in a cloud of smoke and ash, ran to Laura for support.

Laura’s husband of 27 years, John Garraway, said he was in his shop, located near to his home, when he heard the loud sound.

“That lightning frightened me. When I went up to the house I was so shocked to see what it did to the cable,” said John.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited the Ottley Hall residence, located atop a hill, it was evident that a bolt of lightning had melted a small portion of the galvanized sheeting on the roof, as well as a cable line that was directly below the area, and an electrical line on the ground floor.

The family claims that although the main switch to the home was turned off, the lightening still sent electricity through the lines and damaged their television, computer, DVD player, telephone, and lightbulbs. The Garraways added that a washing machine that was unplugged in the verandah has stopped working since the lightning strike.

The family disclosed that there are reports of other homes in the neighborhood suffering similar losses.

The Garraways expressed that they would like the matter of their damaged equipment addressed by one of the utility companies.

When contacted, an official from the St.Vincent Electricity Servicers Ltd (VINLEC) said, if the Garraways have a concern they can write a letter to the CEO and the matter will be investigated.

SEARCHLIGHT also contacted the head of the Electrical Inspectorate Division, Garfield Jack, who, while not commenting on the specific case, encouraged homeowners whose houses have not been inspected during the last five years to apply to his division for re-inspection.

He noted that the Electrical Inspectorate Division may not be able to prevent everything, but it might be able to prevent accidents by locating faulty wires.

Regarding the issue of lightning, Jack said a lightning bolt has thousands of volts that can make almost anything conductive, as the lightening looks for a path to the ground.

Lightning is said to be formed by the forcible separation of positive and negative charges within the clouds. (HN)