Local assisted living home desperate for propane

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Reporter: Mychaela Bruner
Photographer: Mason Stevenson

BENTON, Ky—A propane shortage across the country is hitting the Local 6 region.  We know the weekend break from frigid temperatures will not last long, but this shortage could.  High demand is not the only factor to blame for the shortage.

The National Propane Gas Association said the cold snap comes just after farmers used large amounts of propane to dry out an extra-big corn harvest.  A pipeline outage during most of December is also partly to blame for the shortage. Also, truck drivers who deliver propane were delayed because the U.S. Department of Transportation limited the amount of time they could spend on the road.

The good news now is those limits are suspended in ten Midwestern and 12 northeastern states.  A local assisted living home came very close to running out of propane today.

Almost all of Lakeland Wesley Village in Benton, KY relies on propane.  In a desperate attempt to try to conserve the propane, management lowered the boiler temperature, so instead of hot showers, seniors and the disabled have been bathing in luke warm water.

Property Manager Lisa Walker said it was a close call, but she is thankful a local propane company stepped up and came to the rescue.

"Everybody that lives on this property is either elderly or disabled," said Walker.

Two hundred apartments make up Lakeland Wesley Village and 165 of those apartments run on propane.

"They have to have heat," said Walker.

Walker said the nationwide propane shortage left the apartment complex with few options.

"When she said we're not delivering to commercial customers anymore. The first thing I said is what do I do," said Walker.

With more questions than answers, Walker said she immediately started calling other propane companies.

"I just kept calling and telling them, I have days not weeks," said Walker.

Walker said her prayers were answered.  Ohio Valley Gas came to the rescue and agreed to help.

"He said he may not be able to fill me, but I will not run out. so we're putting all our eggs in that basket," said Walker.

For that, resident Clarissa Johnson said she is thankful.

"It's very scary for us who are on limited income with no where else to go. We really count on this place to take care of us. This place keeps us from being homeless," said Johnson.

A lifeline and a propane tank that is now half full, instead of half empty.

"I feel a whole lot better now, a whole lot better," said Walker.

It is only a temporary solution.  Walker said the residents will need to conserve so they do not run out of propane.  Walker said it is going to be tough because her propane rates have more than doubled, but said it is a small price to pay to keep her residents warm.

Walker said United Propane has provided supplies for Lakeland Wesley Village for more than 20 years.  This week the company told her they were cutting off all commercial businesses.  Walker said even though the home technically has a commercial business contract, residents live there and rely on propane.

Ohio Valley Gas agreed to help but the rates have nearly doubled due to the propane shortage.  We reached out to United Propane for comment but have not yet heard back.

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