Help during the cold weather - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Help during the cold weather

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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

Our recent cold snap has led many people to seek help, either with their utility bill or to find shelter during the cold weather. And they're turning to several local agencies that do just that.

At Centerpoint community service, better known as 2-1-1, calls are up by more than 10-percent during our cold weather. Some want help before their electricity gets cut off and are referred to the Salvation Army. "Oh yes, there's a lot of people losing their jobs. There's so many that have lost their jobs since October. I've seen a large number, more number of people," Said Theresa Cobb.

Cobb is head of the Salvation Army's Social Services division and says she's filled-out more than 160 home heating assistance applications since October, including a recent spike since the cold weather arrived.

But she says there are limits to the aid. "They require that the most we put on, they put on the bill is two hundred dollars and unfortunately anything over the two hundred dollars has to be paid. That's just for the disconnection amount."

The cold weather also leads people to the Salvation Army's homeless shelter. "Yeah, it's like three days ago (laugh). I had to come in. I tried to take it as long as I could, but after that I couldn't take it no more," said 50-year old Gregory Demming of Shreveport who lost his job and then his home about four months ago.

To say that the Salvation Army is busy this time of year is an understatement. They are over capacity. Usually they can accommodate 115 people. But as of Wednesday (12/26/12) night, 132 people stayed the night, which meant the necessity for extra cots being put out.

The cold weather isn't the only reason for more visitors. The facility's director, Rev. Terrance Trammell, explained "With the holidays and cold and of course we've had some rain and so when it's cold and raining people just need to get out of that bad weather." And expect the Salvation Army shelter to remain busy until at least after the holidays, or until the next cold snap arrives.

In 2007, the Louisiana Public Service Commission issued a rule that electric and gas companies it regulates cannot disconnect service to residential customers during extreme weather.  That includes days when temperatures drop below freezing.

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