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Resources to help during dangerous cold weather

Posted: 6:01 PM, Feb 14, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-14 20:05:31-05

With the temperature dropping to dangerously cold levels, community groups are available to help with things from broken furnaces to just finding a safe, warm place to stay.

Impact 211 and Community Advocates work together to help provide round the clock care for those in need. It is as simple as dialing three numbers when contacting 211.

"We really do think of ourselves as a crisis call center," Bob Waite, Senior Account Manager for Impact 211 said. "People do call us and they are potentially in danger."

Impact 211 is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. They can help other community groups as well during those off-hours. It's a service Community Advocates uses to help its people in need.

"We partner with 211 after hours if there are calls for no heat," Maudwella Kirkendoll, COO for Community Advocates said. "Last night, we received an increased number of calls due to cold weather around issues with furnaces not working."

Impact 211 also saw an increase in furnace issues. Waite says they had 16 calls overnight for furnace issues and 55 to 60 calls from people in need of warm shelter. These community groups work together to ensure no one is stuck out in the cold.

"We want to get out there right away to address these issues," Kirkendoll said. "We've seen people become ill because they're using their stoves to heat their homes."

People like Aisha Harmon have already benefited from the help of groups like these. She contacted Community Advocates over a month ago when her heating bill in her new home was much higher than she expected.

"My first heating bill was almost $260," Harmon said. "That's a lot. I keep it about $112."

She realized her new home was lacking proper insulation and her windows needed to be resealed. Then her water heater went. Then her furnace started acting funky. All of this as winter was getting into full swing. She knew she needed help to keep her home warm for her and her four kids under 17 years old.

"It makes me feel bad as a mom," Harmon said. "It hurts. You want to do everything you can to make sure your babies are taken care of."

In talking to Community Advocates for energy assistance, they told her she qualified to have her home winterized and replace the broken appliances. She's still waiting for a new furnace but Friday, she was having insulation put in and had just had her water heater replaced within the last month.

"I took my first hot shower yesterday," Harmon said. "Oh, it was amazing."

Resources like these are available for those who qualify.

Contacting 211 is as simple as dialing 2-1-1 on your phone. You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 or chat online.

Community Advocates can be reached at (414) 270-4653 or on their website.

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