North Texas Heat Turns Up Need for Relief Effort

There is financial help available to deal with the brutal Texas heat, but it is already proving to be in short supply.

The United Way provides an information and referral service known as "211 Texas."

The 211 service that serves Tarrant County and seven other North Texas counties has seen a sharp increase in heat-related calls in the past 30 days – approximately 5,000 calls – and about 22 percent of all 211 calls during that time period have been for help covering expenses related to the heat.

“People are starting to get concerned since there hasn’t been a break in the heat,” said 211 Director Vicki Mize. “And we are letting them know what’s available.”

The majority of the heat-related 211 calls have been people seeking assistance paying their electric bills – always high during the hot summer months.

But an increasing number of calls has been people requesting free window air conditioner units.

There have been so many requests, in fact, that one of the agencies that partners with the United Way and 211 ran out of air conditioners on Wednesday, just five days into August.

“Actually the economy is getting a little bit better. I think it’s really just related to the heat,” Mize told NBCDFW about why she believes there has been an increase in calls over this same time period last year.

Mize added that her agency would gladly help connect people who have window air conditioners to donate with needy families. All they need to do is dial 211.

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