Charitable Organizations Feel The Heat Of Not Being Able To Help

Sunday, July 17th 2011, 11:10 pm
By: News 9

Jon Jordan, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- When it has been so hot for so long, energy bills can rise fast. Fortunately there are organizations that can help, but at a time when those organization are needed most they admit it's getting harder for them to reach out.

Like a lot of us trying to beat the heat, Susan Newcombe relies a lot on her air conditioning unit to work.

"It's not pleasant when I get real hot," she said.

Unfortunately, staying cool comes at a cost and that means skyrocketing energy bills for some said Heide Brandes of the Salvation Army.

"This summer with the 110-, 108-degree weather, it's just getting worse," she said.

It is so bad, some are finding paying those energy bills impossible. That's why, Brandes said, more and more people are turning to the Salvation Army for help.

"We get so many calls on a daily basis that it clogs up the phone lines," she said.

Brandes said their energy assistance program is able to help around 500 people, but due to a lack of funding from the federal government, they and other organizations are having to turn away hundreds more.

"We have to turn away like 12 hundred to 15 hundred requests for assistance because, simply, we don't have the money," she said.

No money to help means more people looking for other options and that is a fear for EMSA paramedics.

"They're just trying to live it out in their houses with a fan, windows open, or nothing at all," said Mike Roy of EMSA. "We are concerned about people living out there in that environment.

The Salvation Army wishes there were more it could do as Oklahoma City continues to set a record for consecutive days under a heat alert.

"When they say, ‘Please, please, I cannot pay my bill this month…' and you have to look at them and say we can't help you because our funding is out, it's heartbreaking," Brandes said.