SOUTHINGTON — Bristol residents Katie Ouellette and her husband were on their fifth day without power after Tropical Storm Isaias when she contacted Jamie Sewell, owner of Powersports LLC on Flanders Street, with a desperate plea.
Ouellette's 53-year-old husband has a heart condition. They needed electricity to power the defibrillator machine that helps regulate his heart rhythm.
On top of that, Ouellette has her own medical needs. She's been fighting cancer for more than a year and uses a wound vac machine to help heal a deep wound she developed during treatment.
Ouellette contacted Sewell around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. He was over in less than an hour with a generator and cords, Ouellette said.
“We were able to plug in the defibrillator machine,” she said. “It made it a lot more comfortable.”
They were also able to run their air conditioner and charge their cell phones.
The couple was among the more than 30 area residents Sewell has helped since last week, providing generators to families who needed life-saving home health care.
Sewell and his staff worked for four days straight setting up the generators at homes. He didn’t initially plan on traveling outside Southington, but received a lot of calls for help. In addition to Southington and Bristol, they’ve set up units in places like Cheshire, Manchester and Waterbury.
“We were just trying to give back to the community,” Sewell said Monday. “We’ve been very blessed here ... We enjoy helping people out.”
Sewell said they started by helping one family on Flanders Road, where his business is located, and it “snowballed” from there. He received help from Washington Concrete Products in Plainville, who donated the use of three generators. Matt Strasser lives near the business and has used them to service his equipment, such as his lawnmower. He said Sewell reached out to him, knowing that he was likely out of power if the business was out. Strasser said his fiance has been out of work due to coronavirus, so living on one income they were grateful not to have to replace all of the food in their refrigerator.
“When (Sewell) stopped by and delivered a brand new generator we couldn't believe it,” Strasser said. “The packaging was still on the generator, this was a brand new Honda he had unboxed to help his neighbors in need. He set it up and ran extension cords through the house to plug in our refrigerator, air conditioner, and a few lights around the house.”
Strasser said when his power was restored Friday he called Sewell, who then brought the unit to another family where a man was on oxygen.
“Seeing their excitement and thankfulness kept pushing us forward,” Sewell said.
Sewell also helped fellow Southington resident Sarah Cabata, whose son has an adrenal deficiency. When he gets too hot or cold, he can go into shock, Cabata explained.
On Saturday evening, Cabata contacted Sewell, asking if he had any deals on generators. She was looking to buy one at that point.
“He said, ‘I got you. I will come over with a generator in about an hour. I can get your air conditioner going,’” Cabata said.
“He showed up with a whole case of water. He brought lanterns and explained everything to us. He checked in with us that night and checked in with us the next morning. He made sure everything was OK,” Cabata said.