JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The lights are going to be turned off on potentially 73,000 JEA customers, and that's a very real possibility for a Jacksonville mother of 6 who says she simply doesn't have the money that JEA says she has to pay.
Tiffany Orama is very conscious about trying to conserve energy.
"I do get on the kids about turning the tv off, I turn them off at night," Orama said, "I'm using more natural light during the day and I try to keep my AC on 75, if anybody touches that we're going to have a problem."
When we spoke with Orama in her apartment we intentially left some lights off to try and help her use less energy to keep her JEA bill down. During the month of August her bill jumped by more than $100 to a total of $302.50. That same month 4 of her 6 kids went back to school and Orama was faced with a choice.
"Last month it was, 'do I buy my kids school clothes and school supplies or do I pay the light bill?'" Orama recalled. "That's kind of where we were at and I had to pick my children over the lights."
Orama lost her job during the pandemic and works for DoorDash to get by; something she was able to do until a recent rise in her JEA bill.
"It breaks my heart as a mom that I have to sit here and explain to them that we're struggling," Orama said. "I can't afford to take care of you guys and all the bills."
There is limited help available. JEA has a list of resources for people who are struggling to pay their bills. First Coast News sat down with Orama to help her start the process of requesting help. Some programs are specific to senior citizens or military families, which she is not, but for the mother of 6, this was a start.
"I had no idea about this," said Orama. "It kind of eases my mind knowing there is help, I wasn't aware of it, hopefully it works. I'm really hoping it does because in the next week or so I will be in the dark if nothing happens."
Tiffany Orama said having her power disconnected would be devastating. More than being in the dark, all of the food in her fridge would spoil and she said she wouldn't be able to wash her kids' clothes.