Hoosiers struggle to pay high heat bills

(WISH Photo, file)

HAMILTON CO., Ind. (WISH) – Amy McCree of Hamilton County doesn’t just have herself to take care of – she has a 3-year-old daughter.

And with the extreme cold temperatures combined with near record-high propane prices, she’s struggling to make ends meet.

Ten years ago, the U.S. Energy Information Agency shows Indiana propane at $1.36. Today it’s $3.76 a gallon. That’s 12 cents shy of a record high set in 2012.

“And you’re thinking well, how much do I owe you then? They’re $298!” McCree said.

That $298 would’ve given McCree 100 gallons of propane. She says that’s enough to last her about three weeks in current temperatures. Her tank sits at 7 percent. Meanwhile, she’s forced to use electric heaters.

“So, I run it before she goes to bed. And it helps, but it’s jumping up my electric bill. Electric bill was $288 for 35 days,” she said.

McCree was recently laid of work and weeks shy of her tax return check, she had to reach out for help.

“She was just really concerned. And she didn’t know which way to turn,” said Nancy Chance, executive director of Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County.

Chance says she’s taking 30 to 40 calls a day. She says GSN has already assisted about 20 families with their propane bills.

“Many of them are calling me and they’re in tears because they don’t even want to call me,” Chance said.

Callers must fill out some forms, but Chance goes to work immediately. She makes calls and does all she can to keep families safe and from other headaches like frozen pipes.

“And I’m trying to buy the minimum just to get them through a couple three weeks just to see if the weather will turn and get them back on their feet,” she said.

Chance says GSN has already spent five-times what they had budgeted. But, knows they have to do whatever they can to help these families weather the storm.

“I just always think paying forward is the best way to do it. It’s my motto,” Chance said.

“We’ll make it. Thanks to Good Samaritan like I said. Good people like that,” McCree said.

GSN is hoping AmeriGas delivers the propane by tomorrow to get McCree and her daughter safely through yet another cold snap.

Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County runs off of donations. You can mail a check to Good Samaritan Network at P.O. Box 339 Noblesville, 46061 or donate through PayPal on their website.

If your tank is at 10 percent or less, the Indiana Attorney General’s office will help you sort out delays in your delivery or find a provider. Just call 1-800-382-5516.

Just call 1-800-382-5516.


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