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Thousands look for aid paying utility bills

After one day of accepting applications for assistance with Entergy bills, organizers say the process is now closed, with all the funds expected to be disbursed.

NEW ORLEANS — The price of power and natural gas has skyrocketed and so has the need for assistance. 

Wednesday was the first day for customers to participate in two programs designed to help them make ends meet. 

Atmos customers packed the gym at Johnny Jacobs Playground in Marrero. 

The natural gas provider in Jefferson Parish was offering bill payment relief for those in need. 

Judging from the turnout, the need is great. 

“Seems like everything is doubling and tripling up, so I sure everybody that’s in here, definitely needs their assistance,” Deadreal Luchion said. “Thanking God, that their able to get some extra help.” 

“We surely do need it,” Melinda Carter said. “We’ve got a lot of people who are on fixed income, a lot of people that’s disabled. I have a son that’s disabled. He’s ten years old. We really do need all the help we can get.” 

Atmos and the Jefferson Community Action Partnership teamed up on the $100,000 program. 

The grants cover current and overdue bills, deposits and service charges. 

“We just want to make sure everyone has access to energy affordability,” Atmos spokesperson Leah Oby said. “This is a way that we can help to do that, by offering these much-needed funds.” 

Atmos will hold a similar event on Friday at Delta Playground, 8301 W. Metairie Avenue in Metairie. 

“Everybody’s bill has skyrocketed,” Carter said. “So, every little bit always helps.” 

Wednesday was also the first and last day for Entergy customers to apply for a $150 credit on their bills in partnership with the United Way. 

Some customers had a tough time accessing the online application on unitedwaysela.org because of technical issues. A spokesman said those issues were quickly resolved. 

As a backup, Entergy set up in-person application sites at the Customer Care Centers on Canal Street in Mid-City and Behrman Highway in Algiers.  

Entergy and the United Way closed the application process late Wednesday afternoon. 

According to a spokesman, “We received over 17,100 applications in under eight hours since opening the program on 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. The significant response is projected to exhaust the funds provided by Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans for our seven-parish service area.” 

The United Way is now reviewing the applications. 

Applicants are expected to receive a response on whether they qualified for the Entergy assistance within 10 business days. 

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