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LIHEAP: Crisis program begins as people lineup before daylight to apply

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Big Sandy Community Action Agency offices were filled with folks needing heating assistance on Monday. Officials began accepting applications for the crisis portion of LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) at 8 a.m. Monday morning. The crisis program helps folks who have a disconnect notice or are running low on bulk fuel to heat their homes.

Those in need of heating assistance lined up outside of Big Sandy offices across the region before daylight to make sure they had a place in line. Michael Salyer braved the cold and dark winter morning to apply, "We were here at 6 o'clock this morning and there was 40 people here in front of us so that tells you how big of a necessity it is for people to be willing to stand out in the cold." Salyer compared it to waiting in line for a ball game except this was "something necessary not for pleasure."

Big Sandy Area Community Action Program Director, Mike Howell, says the office in Johnson County is an example of what all offices in the region looked like on Monday morning, "The Johnson County office in particular, we had approximately 150 people in line by 8 o'clock."

Howell says unfortunately they will not be able to serve everyone who showed up to apply on the first day, "We are looking at being able to serve approximately 125 of those today." Officials encouraged those who did not get processed to come back on Tuesday but say they will need to line up outside early again because they are expecting an even bigger crowd on Tuesday as Howell explains, "If history repeats itself we will have a larger crowd on the 2nd day than the first."

Folks say the waiting time in long lines is nothing compared to the weeks they have been waiting for this day. Salyer says, "Right now we just couldn't make it because we have a fixed income and it is how we get through the winter time. I call it a God-send, it really is. It is a blessing to people in Eastern Kentucky, they need this."

Officials say they are also thankful for the program as Howell explains, "We are glad to be able to help and thankful to have this program here in the Big Sandy area."

BSACAP offices will begin taking applications again on Tuesday morning at 8. Officials encourage those in need to apply as soon as possible because the Crisis Program is first come, first serve and there is limited funding available.

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