HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - According to the National Weather Service, heat is one of the leading weather related killers in the United States, causing hundreds of deaths each year. There is a great concern right now for senior citizens who are having to go without air conditioning because they can't afford repairs.
It's been a long, hot summer for Annie McLaurin.
"Oh, it's been miserable. The fans, they don't do any good, you know," said McLaurin.
The 81-year-old great-grandmother resorted to fans after the central AC unit went out in her Gulfport home. She was told it is beyond repair and needs replacing.
"I was going to see about borrowing the money, but with my age and my income, I don't need to be trying to borrow no money to try to get a unit," said McLaurin. "I need to, but with my finances, I'm not able to pay."
A generous donor gave a window unit to the Harrison County Senior Resources Agency, which volunteer John Armstrong installed for McLaurin. Unfortunately, he said she is not the only senior citizen in need of help.
"It's been really heartbreaking," said Armstrong, with the Retired Volunteer Senior Program. "At one time, we had four people who were in the same situation as Mrs. McLaurin with no air condition, no way to get it. In a couple of cases, no family members to even go stay with. It's dangerous for some of these folks if they've got health problems."
Armstrong believes many of the problems with the units are fixable.
"If somebody who works on air conditioners could donate some time to at least check one out and see," Armstrong said. "It may just need some Freon, but we don't have any money to pay anything like that. This is the best we can do for them."
For now, McLaurin says her heart goes out to all those sharing in her struggle to stay cool.
"I hope that somebody will go about and see about them and their needs," McLaurin said. "Because if I could do anything for them, I would."
The Harrison County Senior Resource Agency is advising seniors without AC to stay with friends and family during heat advisories. If you are willing to donate an AC unit or make repairs for a senior citizen or veteran, you can call 228-896-0412.