19-hour power outage puts strain on those with oxygen tanks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – When Wednesday night’s storm pulled the plug on power for almost 40,000 households, it risked pulling the plug on life for senior citizens dependent on electricity to power their oxygen tanks.

Residents at the Welsh Manor senior living facility in Raleigh endured about 19 hours without power Thursday before it was finally restored around 7 p.m.

During the height of the afternoon heat, many sought relief outside where temperatures were cooler than those inside.

“We just hot. It’s hot,” said Nakeba Bledsoe.

“Hot and miserable,” said Clay Baggett.

Beulah Grant, who said she suffers from COPD and asthma, said she hadn’t been able to use her oxygen tank all day and had instead been relying solely on an inhaler.

“Hope it keep me breathing without going to the hospital,” said Grant.

Residents say one woman had to be taken to the hospital due to heat exhaustion. Meanwhile, some nearby businesses continued operating with electricity and air conditioning, like the Family Dollar right next door to the senior facility.

As with air conditioning, food was also in short supply for Welsh Manor residents since there was no electricity to cook.

“When I woke up this morning, I had to eat a pickle for breakfast,” said Grant.

Any food left in refrigerators began to spoil before long.

“My refrigerator is melting, I mean, there’s water all of the floor,” Baggett said.

Late Thursday evening, the city opened a cooling center at the Lewis Senior Center at 1188 North Parkway.

MLGW recommends its oxygen tank-dependent customers arrange for an emergency backup supply, but residents at Welsh Manor say they would like the facility to install a backup generator.

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