Hundreds in Fayetteville seek help with heating bills
Posted February 3
Updated February 4
Fayetteville, N.C. — The bitterly cold weather North Carolina has seen in recent weeks has sent hundreds of Fayetteville residents scurrying in search of help with their soaring heating bills.
People began lining up in the early morning hours Tuesday outside the Salvation Army Services building in Fayetteville, the second consecutive day that big crowds had arrived looking for help.
The Salvation Army taps into two federally funded programs that help pay heating bills for the elderly and those in need. Cumberland County residents have until March 30 to apply for help with winter heating bills.
Dozens also lined up on Monday morning, and by the time the office opened up around 8 a.m., the line wrapped around the building and nearly spilled into the street.
"They let in like 100 people," Bernice Bell said of the crowd that assembled Monday. "Then, five minutes later, they came out and said, 'Everybody can leave because we're not going to see nobody else today.'"
Brian Allen, a spokesman for the Salvation Army, said the two heating assistance programs provide aid on a first-come, first-served basis.
"We're just to capacity right now inside, and our staff is just totally full assisting people," Allen said. "We're getting to the individuals outside as quickly as possible."
That was small comfort to many of those in line, such as Cornelius Shaw, who was hooked up to an oxygen tank.
"I can't stay but so long myself because I'm going to run out of oxygen," Shaw said. "(Financial aid) is going to help me keep my lights on because, tomorrow, they're going to shut them off if I don't get some assistance."
Allen brought some chairs outside to help some of those in line with health problems, and he agreed to allow them to put their names on a list so that they would be seen first on Tuesday morning when the Salvation Army next accepts assistance applications.
Applicants can also apply for assistance over the phone, Allen said. Those who call 910-307-0359 may see a slower turn-around on help, though, because they are asked to fax of mail supporting documents.