CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kelly Plymale has been without electricity since power went out all over the Eastern United States on June 29.
Plymale, who is supposed to be on oxygen 24 hours a day, cannot use her breathing machine when she tries to sleep in her stifling St. Albans apartment. She ran out of oxygen days ago.
"I always thought, when there was an emergency, that the elderly people and the sick would be a priority," said Kathy Simpson, Plymale's in-home health nurse, "but it just didn't work that way -- or they just had so many people who need help they can't get to all of it."
Plymale lives on Knox Avenue, in one of about 10 houses without power in the Ordnance Park neighborhood. St. Albans City Councilman Desper Lemon said everyone else in the area had electricity restored on Wednesday, but a tangle of fallen trees took out power lines and a transformer in part of the neighborhood. The damage has yet to be repaired.
Lemon said several of the people without electricity are elderly and have major health problems. Lemon ran an extension cord across Forrestal Avenue from his house to the home of an 83-year-old neighbor, so he can at least run a couple of fans to try to keep cool.
Lemon's next-door neighbor ran an extension cord across the street to Paul Neece, who is caring for his aged parents, Linda and Larry Neece.
Paul Neece said his mother has been disabled for years, and is unable to move to a cooling station or emergency shelter.
"She's paralyzed on one side and needs help moving around," he said. "It's a lot of work just to help her move around."
One street over, on Knox, Plymale has been suffering temperatures of 90 degrees and higher without oxygen, without air conditioning, and with only what food and water neighbors and friends can bring her.
"It's hard to breathe," she said. "I've just been praying to God to survive this heat."