AIKEN - Georgia and South Carolina are getting $6 million in federal assistance to help the elderly, poor and disabled cool their homes this summer.
South Carolina residents are getting $1.25 million, and Georgians the rest.
"Elderly and disabled people should not have to survive Georgia 100-degree summer days without air conditioning just because they're poor," Gov. Roy Barnes said Saturday in Atlanta. "This money will be put to good use - cooling their homes, buying them fans and helping with their electric bills - so they will survive the summer."
South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges said the money will be "especially helpful for our most vulnerable citizens."
"There are families around South Carolina who have been hard hit by the cost of cooling their homes," he said. "This will be welcome aid for them."
In South Carolina, the funds will assist 6,000 families in need of crisis cooling by helping pay their utility bills. Some will be used to weatherize 100 more homes, reducing their annual heating and cooling costs an average of $200.
Some of the money will provide window air conditioners for senior citizens and people with medical conditions that require a cool environment.
The funds are part of a $41.75 million federal commitment through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, according to Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C. Nine states with severe heat this summer are sharing the grants.
"The extreme heat ... endured this summer has been particularly hard on the frail segments of our population," the senator said. "This grant will allow the state to assist many of its low-income households with energy costs, giving much needed relief to those that have suffered most from this heat wave."
In South Carolina, the funds will be distributed through the 15 community-action agencies under a program administered by the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity. Residents seeking assistance should contact that office at (803) 734-0354 or their local community-action agency.
In Georgia, the funds will be distributed through the Department of Family and Children Services. Residents seeking help should contact the local office.
Reach Margaret N. O'Shea at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.