Heating aid still available

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 10, 2014

The artic vortex that dropped temperatures well below freezing earlier this week is on its way out of Covington County, but there is still time for those who would like to apply for heating assistance through local organizations to do so before more cool temps move into the area.

Don Johnson, director of the local chapter of the American Red Cross, said Project SHARE is in full swing, with interviews scheduled today in Florala, as well as next week in Andalusia and Opp. Johnson said that doesn’t mean it is too late for those who would still like to apply for aid.

Those in need of assistance can pick up applications at the Andalusia County Administration Building on Hillcrest Drive, as well as at the senior centers in both Andalusia and Opp.

Appointments are made on a first-come, first-served basis, and a representative from the Red Cross will interview all applicants. For those who qualify, payments will be made directly to the energy supplier. All sources, including gas, electric, wood, coal, oil or kerosene, are eligible, with propane as the only exception.

Johnson said this week’s severe weather is only a reminder of how important programs like Project SHARE and the Organized Community Actions Program’s heating assistance can be.

In December, it was announced that Covington County is set to share in a $2.3 million seven-county grant award to OCAP. That money will help heat more than 500 local households.

The funding enables OCAP to provide temporary assistance with electric and gas bills. Priority for assistance is given to the elderly, people with disabilities and families with young children. OCAP has been accepting call-in appointments for its heating program since Monday.

Project SHARE, which is funded almost entirely from donations of local residents through their utility providers, helped approximately 14 households last winter, providing an average aid of $120 per home.

Johnson said Project SHARE helps with bills and will sometimes assist customers in reestablishing a disconnected service.

“Occasionally, we will pay reconnect fees,” Johnson said. “We won’t pay for deposits, but some times we can help get service turned back on. We can help in that respect.”

Johnson said he expects to likely conduct interviews in the Andalusia area Tuesday through Thursday of next week as well, giving those in need of applications a bit longer to come in.

Interviews begin each day at 9 a.m.

For more information, call the American Red Cross at 334.428.2680, or OCAP at 334.428.2660.