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Volunteers, HVAC companies help keep Triangle residents warm

Posted January 8, 2015

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— With temperatures still below freezing across all of North Carolina and much of the Southeast, thermostats across the area have been working overtime in the last 24 to 48 hours.

With the extra work comes extra stress, and many older units were struggling early Thursday, according to repair crews at JD Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.

The Durham-based company took dozens of calls Wednesday and Thursday, and crews were out early to check units and repair those struggling to heat area homes.

Shelia Huggins, a Durham homeowner, said her older unit was on its last leg when she and her husband woke up Thursday.

"We were a little concerned that our system might die at any moment, given how low the temperatures were forecast to be," she said. "We wanted to get someone in here before we were all frozen over."

Technicians said homeowners should keep a close eye on fuel levels and schedule annual service appointments.

"A lot of people, (the furnaces have) failed just due to the fact that it hasn't been serviced in years," Michael Helton, a technician, said.

Duke Energy officials said Thursday afternoon that power services held up well during peak times between 5 and 10 a.m., when temperatures were in the single digits in some parts of the Triangle.

"We're in very good shape at this point. We always felt like we could meet demand, but if we were to have an outage at a plant or on the grid, we would have to adjust," spokesman Jeff Brooks said.

Officials reminded consumers to conserve energy when possible during extreme cold snaps.

"Some very small things can make a big difference," Brooks said. "Unplugging chargers, setting thermostats a bit lower and postponing chores that require electricity. They can make a big difference when you multiply it by millions of customers."

Temperatures will be in the mid-20s overnight and early Friday morning before returning to the 40s to close the work week. Weekend high temperatures will be in the upper 30s and low 40s.

Volunteers help spread warmth in Raleigh

Homeless shelters across the Triangle saw an uptick in those seeking to stay out of the cold overnight, and work continued Thursday afternoon to keep people warm.

Volunteers from the Raleigh Rescue Mission handed out hats, gloves, jackets and scarves that had been donated to the mission by Briggs Hardware.

"When I see people hurting and no one reaching out to them, it just tugs my heart, and the Lord said this what you need to do, so I can't argue with that," Briggs Hardware owner Evelyn Murray said. "Everyone is being very kind. Everyone is just thanking us for helping them right now. It's a desperate need."

Vinson Jester was one of dozens who came out to receive warm clothes.

"It's a life-saver, it really is," he said.

Jimmy Goodwin, who also received some of the donated items, agreed.

"I think these folks are very, very nice and I thank God for them for helping us," he said.

Area shelters will once again fly white flags Thursday night, a signal to the community that dangerous cold is in the forecast and all are welcome.

Shelters use the white flag system whenever temperatures are forecast to be below 32 degrees between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., conditions expected through Saturday night.

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  • A person Jan 9, 2015

    An older unit will warm just as well as a new unit, and better in a lot of cases