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Portland woman receives first AC unit in 29 years

After last year's deadly heat wave, Oregon legislature passed SB 1536 which allocated $5 million to buy air conditioners for high-risk Oregonians.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After last year's deadly heat wave, lawmakers made some changes in hopes of saving lives. One bill gave the Oregon Health Authority $5 million to buy air conditioners for high-risk Oregonians.

Some of those units have already made it into the hands of those in need.

“I am ecstatic,” said Tracy Fravel. “Absolutely grateful and ecstatic and thankful.” 

Fravel has lived in her East Portland apartment for the last 29 years. Not once has she owned air conditioning — that is, until today.

“I couldn't believe it,” said Fravel. “We got an email from the lady from my church and she said it. I was actually Skyping with a friend in Scotland and I said ‘I'm seeing some email about a free [AC] unit.’

"I just kept thinking I'm not gonna be able to afford air conditioning. There's just no way that I can do it. I don't have that kind of money."

Credit: KGW NEWS

Earlier this year, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 1536, which allocated $5 million to buy air conditioners for high-risk Oregonians like Tracy.  

RELATED: No, closing doors won't save money on central A/C

"As soon as they come in they're going right back out," said Caleb Butler.

Butler works at the Portland Open Bible Church, one of the community groups helping to install the units. 

He tells KGW’s Daisy Caballero that Tracy was his 11th delivery so far and he's taking every installation to heart — hoping he’s a helping hand in stopping heat-related deaths. 

Credit: KGW NEWS

“Our goal this year is to have zero deaths,” said Butler. “I mean, as best we can. That's our ultimate goal." 

The Open Bible Church has received a little over 350 units within the last few days. 

RELATED: Oregon bill passed after deadly heat wave protects portable AC units, but not all types

OHA intends to install 3,000 units this summer throughout the state, with the help of community groups.

As for Tracy, she no longer has to worry about her home reaching 99 degrees like it did last year during the historic heat wave that resulted in the deaths of nearly 100 people.

“I truly never thought I would see this day,” said Tracy. “I thought I was going to get another credit card, put myself in debt or [get] a lot more fans. So, this is just incredible to me. I'm thankful for everybody who was involved in getting it."

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