Senior couple struggling in heat without air conditioner - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Senior couple struggling in heat without air conditioner

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The extreme heat can be dangerous and unbearable, particularly for those without air conditioning.

With almost 1,000 people still on the Shelby County air conditioner waiting list, the demand far outweighs the supply of free air conditioners available.

Wesley and Yahnora Harris are among those people in Memphis living without air conditioning in the extreme heat.  The fans inside their home near Lamar and Semmes do little to help.

Yahnora, 66, and Wesley, 69, are retired and living on social security.  They run a small church out of their hot home.

The couple said Wesley Harris was carjacked and beaten up a year ago.  With his medical bills, they cannot afford to buy an air conditioner.

"Sometimes it feels like you couldn't get your breath," Yahnora Harris said.

The Harris's said their name is on the county's waiting list for an air conditioner, but they have yet to receive one.

"We've been hoping we'd get hooked up on something that could help us, and we will, if we can last long enough," Wesley Harris said.  "I'm not a complainer, if that's the way I've got to go, I've got to go."

Wesley Harris said the couple's previous air conditioners were stolen.

"It's been so hot that at night, he'd be soaking wet," Yahnora Harris said.

There is a cooling center a mile and a half away from the Harris's home, but with no car, they said it was too hard to get there.

"We'd have to ride the bus and all of that stuff to get to a center," Wesley Harris said.

Wesley Harris said he is used to the heat from years of working outside.  He said he does not like asking for help.

"I don't know how to be because I ain't never begged," he said.  "I've always had plenty."

Shelby County's Community Services Agency has already given away nearly 1,200 air conditioners.  About half of them were donated, city and county tax dollars paid for the rest.

The air conditioners were given away on a first come, first serve basis, with priority given to seniors, the disabled and those with young children.

If you would like to donate an air conditioner or get put on the waiting list, call 901-545-4311 during normal business hours.

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