Mannford Family Has Heat Thanks To Propane Assistance Program

Tuesday, February 11th 2014, 11:09 pm
By: Tess Maune

Many Oklahomans are turning on their heat first time in weeks thanks to millions of dollars helping low-income families that were on the brink of having their propane shut off.

A million dollars has been spent, but there's still three million left from a federal assistance program.

2/4/2014 Related Story: Low-Income Families Can Apply For Help With Propane Bill

One family had already shut off the propane because it was just too expensive.

It's a nice change of pace, for the Johnson family; who made a pot of homemade chicken and noodles on the stove.

"We've been using the microwave and crockpots and little other implements and toaster ovens, stuff like that and we did it," said Mannford Resident Betty Johnson.

She can laugh about it now because things are looking up, and warming up, a big change from this time last week.

"One week ago, it was cold," Johnson said.

The Johnson family was relying on space heaters to stay warm. Their propane had long been turned off, because like so many other Oklahomans, Betty and her husband, Brent, couldn't afford the high price to refill their tank.

The cost of the fuel went from $1.85 a gallon in the fall to nearly $5 a gallon late last month.

"Doing everything we can just to keep the roof over our heads," Brent Johnson said.

Betty Johnson said, "It's hard, but we make do with it, we manage, gotta keep good spirits for the kids."

Last Tuesday, the couple applied for help through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. It's for families who meet certain income guidelines and are 72 hours from using up their propane supply.

"It almost brings tears to my eyes now bothers me actually to do this," Betty Johnson said.

Though it was hard for Betty to ask for help, exactly one week after applying she got the news she was hoping for, and the money she so desperately needed.

$300 to cover what she's already used and $350 to fill her tank up nearly halfway.

"We will be able to stay warm, we won't have to worry anymore and I won't have to worry about the kids, if they're covered up in the middle of the night," Betty Johnson said.

You can apply for the assistance at most DHS offices. You'll need proof of your income, then you should get the money within 72 hours.

The Johnson said they did have to call the DHS office to learn they'd been approved. Then, within just a few hours, the propane company was at their house refilling their tank.