Fuel costs leaving some literally in the cold

Comanche County_The price of fuel continues to soar, and as it does, utility costs rise as well - literally leaving some people in the cold.  With such high heating costs, some folks can't pay their bills.  They're seeing cut-off notices on their doors and in the mail.  The Oklahoma Department of Human Services wants to help keep the heat on in homes where there is need.

DHS has been busier than usual lately - much busier.  Comanche County DHS Assistant Director for Family Support Patsy Davis says there is a program for people who really need help paying their energy bills.  "The Energy Crisis Assistance Program is designed to help people who have cut-off notices with their heating bill," she says.

With temperatures still plummeting to forty degrees in the evening, the E-CAP makes a one time payment on behalf of those in need, paying their bill - and cut-off fees - to keep the heat on.  "It is a short-lived program, so they can't always depend on it," says Davis.  Since there is only so much money to go around, it's a limited program.  "This year we do not know how long it's going to last," she says.  "It depends on how much money [there is available], and how fast the money goes."

Last year, the available funds only lasted for four days, which is why it's important to visit the DHS Office as soon as you can to complete an application.  DHS will take care of the rest.  "They will call the vendor, whether it's PSO, Arkla, propane, whatever the vendor is, and let them know that they have applied, and whether or not they're going to be eligible," Davis says.

Those applying for assistance should be sure to bring their current bill, and cut-off notice.  Davis says it is services like this that make her love her job.  "It's always great to be able to help," she says.  "It helps our community, and I think it helps them to be more comfortable, and to be able to go on to help their children...their parents."

Funds are limited.  So, if your utilities have been cut off, bring your bill and cut-off notice to the office as soon as possible.  In Lawton you can call the DHS Office at 580-250-3600, or complete an application at 2609 Southwest Lee Boulevard.  Elsewhere, contact your local DHS office.