CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF) - The frigid temperatures that gripped the tri-state area this week, are getting back to normal.
But you probably already know your power bill is going to be considerably higher this month.
Even middle income families may be struggling to fit it into their budget----but what if they can't?
There is help available for some.
The weather in the Tennessee valley has been "extraordinary".
JOHN PLESS, SPOKESMAN, EPB "We've had at least 5 mornings here in the immediate Chattanooga are where we've had temperatures get down in single digits."
It's the cumulative effect of three weeks of below average temperatures that threatens to wreck the household budgets of families that can normally pay the bills.
JOHN PLESS, SPOKESMAN, EPB "We work with our customers as best we can to insure that they can make arrangements to pay their bills."
The power companies are feeling pressure also trying to creative enough power to meet the huge demand.
TVA and EPB both all-time record demand this month.
But, knowing how difficult paying utility bills in winter really is, there are as many as 500 individuals, churches, and businesses regularly donating money to do that.
JOHN PLESS, EPB "We get individuals..I know of one attorney here in town who goes out of his way to help usually 2 or 3 people with their utility bills..people he just knows through his business."
The operative agency dealing with the power company is the United Way.
DIANE JARVIS, NEEDY CASES MGR., UNITED WAY "There's no way we could do this by ourselves...we work with the power board, we work with the gas company, we work with the agencies in town..human services, the private, non-profit agencies, the church faith agencies..even some of the local churches."
In 2013, United Way handled 40-thousand calls for help of all kinds.
That number is likely to jump this year.
DIANE JARVIS "We're afraid that your average person who's on social security, or works a low-paying job, or even middle income...when you get a 500-dollar light bill..you're not ready for it..that's why we're hopefully going to be able to help some of them."
On Monday, WDEF News 12 will be talking to some of the local residents who're asking for assistance this winter.
And we'll also talk with other organizations who are helping Chattanoogans pay their utility bills.