The Rev. Ronal King had never seen weather that kept him from doing his ministry.
This week's heat wave is so intense that King, the founder of Rock Hill's Feed the Hungry Ministries, was forced to call it quits early Tuesday. His was one of several organizations seeing a higher demand for service brought on by the heat wave.
By lunchtime, the grass-roots minister had given away 100 electric box fans to families without air conditioning. When the fans that were donated Sunday by the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd were all gone, King had to stop giving.
But the need didn't go away.
"I need fans desperately," King said Tuesday afternoon before answering another phone call from a man in Charlotte who heard about the ministry and wanted to help. "We'll wait for some more to be donated tomorrow and go back out again."
King said he has about 300 names on a list of people in York County who don't have air conditioning and asked for a fan to help stay cool in the 100 degree heat. On Tuesday, King found four families without electricity and took them to a shelter in Charlotte, he said.
"We don't have a cooling shelter here," he said.
Temperatures on Tuesday reached 100 degrees just before 4 p.m. at the Rock Hill/York County airport, according to the National Weather Service, tying a record set in 1888. Today's high is forecast at 101 degrees, according to the weather service, which also would tie a record set in 1951.
King's efforts weren't alone. Carolina Community Action, an agency that assists the elderly, disabled and families with young children, also is helping. Program manager Mary Gossett said she has seen a spike in phone calls this week from individuals asking for relief. Gossett said her agency provides power bill assistance and air conditioning units to families that qualify.
"People are experiencing problems due to the heat wave, and we're trying all we can to help," she said.
Gossett added that CCA works with electricity providers to make sure needy individuals are referred to her for assistance before their power is turned off.
Electricity is in high demand this week, area utility officials said. "We've definitely seen a spike in demand," said Marc Howie, director of member services at York Electric Co-op.
Despite the increased demand, Howie said the electricity supply was strong in the area, and he didn't expect any problems meeting demand.
Do you love the sun and scorching heat? Can't get enough of blazing temperatures? As this week's temperatures reach record highs, we'd like to talk to some local heat lovers. If you're in heaven when the mercury soars, call Jennifer Becknell at 329-4077 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOVE THE HEAT?