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Winter 2018: How Disaster Strikes

Winter 2018: How Disaster Strikes

December 18, 2017

The kinds of events that can push a neighbor into a financial crisis include natural disasters, medical emergencies, job loss, or accidents. These can be especially hard on families with young children as well as elderly adults. However, when Oregonians come together, a little bit of help can go a long way.

“My elderly neighbor lost her husband last year and she has been struggling to adjust to being on her own and keeping up with her bills.

We have been concerned because she had so many big medical bills to deal with after his death. She has been so worried because she lives on a fixed income.

I suggested several times that she might try calling a charity to see if they could help, but she would always say “no thanks.” She was embarrassed by the thought of having to ask anyone for help.

She finally made an appointment at a nearby social services agency. The staff were very helpful and explained how to apply for energy assistance. Later when I saw her again, she seemed so much more herself. I was so glad to hear that Oregon Energy Fund was able to help her.”

“My mom was devastated when she lost her receptionist job after 16 years. After she and my dad were divorced, she was able to support us with her job plus the income from the guest room that we rented out. Unfortunately, our roommate injured her back and was put on medical leave so she couldn’t pay her rent. We live very modestly, but the double blow left us in a bad position and we couldn’t afford to pay the utility bills.

When she told me that, I asked myself, “How were we going to refrigerate or cook our food without power? How would we keep up with our homework without lights? Most importantly, how would this affect her chances of getting another job soon?”

I got so stressed out just thinking about it. But a good friend told mom where she could go to apply for energy assistance. Fortunately, we were able get the help we needed from Oregon Energy Fund.”

The Stewarts were people you may have read about during the fires last summer. With little notice, they had to evacuate their Gorge home. With just a few hours to prepare, the older couple grabbed essential items: birth certificates, clothing, photos, and a few personal items, and headed to Portland stay with their daughter.

Fortunately, their house did not burn, and they were allowed to return home. But, Mr. Stewart had to be treated a few times for emergency respiratory conditions triggered by the smoky air. To prevent another attack, the couple kept the windows shut and the AC on to combat the effects of the smoke and the extreme summer heat. Unfortunately, this increased the couple’s energy consumption significantly, and they were hit with a devastating combination of medical bills, utility costs, and other expenses from the fire that they couldn’t afford.

Oregon Energy Fund provided energy assistance to help ease the Stewarts’ burden.

“I didn’t believe it could happen to me. I’m a good driver. But last winter with just an inch and a half of snow on the ground, my truck was T-boned by another driver. That’s what messed up my hip and set off a chain reaction of consequences.

Because of my injury, I wasn’t able to work for a while. Because my truck was totaled, I wasn’t able to use it in my business as a contractor. That meant a huge loss of work and income. The medical bills from the ER visit and treatments that followed piled up.

Thank goodness I was able to get energy assistance to keep the lights on and get myself back on track.”