Groups Working To Keep People Safe During Heat Wave

Nonprofit groups and other organizations are combining efforts around Kentucky to help residents remain cool during the state's dangerous heat wave that has seen temperatures top 100 degrees in some areas.

Cooling centers have opened in Lexington and Paducah and volunteers in Louisville are providing the poor with new air conditioning units.

"The power is temporarily out at my house, so the central air is not working," said Hal Bone, who used a cooling center at the Broadway United Methodist Church in Paducah. "Needless to say I just had to have some cool air (and) cool water." Lexington has opened six heat relief centers and offered free bus rides to the centers.

The National Weather Service said the recent heat wave continues to create "dangerously hot" conditions. A heat advisory on Thursday was in effect until 8 p.m. EDT.

Maggie Woods was sitting in her Louisville home with three fans as the temperature inside reached 100 degrees.

She said it was a relief when a volunteer with Elderserve arrived to install a window air conditioning unit.

"It's all right now; I'm a cool cat," the 93-year-old woman said after the unit was turned on, cooling her room by seven degrees. "This will help."

Lawrence Johnston, a former executive at General Electric Co., gave $10,000 to ElderServe to buy air conditioners for the poor, and Louisville Metro government matched it with another $10,000.

General Electric added to that by promising to donate an air conditioner for each one purchased at retail price. In all, about 400 units will be purchased with the contributions.

Meanwhile, utilities were setting records for power usage across the state.

LG&E and Kentucky Utilities set usage records on Tuesday afternoon with a peak of 7,011 megawatts and then surpassed that number with 7,095 megawatts on Wednesday at 3 p.m., said Chip Keeling, a spokesman for E.On U.S., parent company to the two utilities. The two utilities serve 96 Kentucky counties.

"It's a chain of events, the warm air is causing more people to use more energy, which is primarily air conditioning," Keeling said Thursday.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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