WINDHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As more Mainers need help with heating assistance, towns and cities across the state are setting up emergency heating funds for their residents.
Rene Daniel works with general assistance clients in Gorham, Scarborough, and Windham, and says request for heating assistance have skyrocketed this winter.
Daniel estimates he has seen a 250 percent increase in calls this winter.
"They're out of oil. They're in panic mode," said Daniel.
Not every municpality has an emergency fund set up, but in Windham, the program is able to help households with up to 100 gallons of heating oil.
Similar funds exist in towns such as Freeport, Yarmouth, and Harpswell. To find out if your municipality has an emergency fund, contant the General Assistance office.
But sometimes LIHEAP and emergency funds don't cover the needs of the community.
Nonprofit and volunteer organizations have formed to help.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a recognized 501c3 in Windham that works with clients on a confidential basis.
It relies on donations, and 100 percent of the funds go to Windham resident's in need of heating assistance.
But with the brutally cold beginning to winter, these groups are reporting a strain on resources.
In a few weeks, Neighbors Helping Neighbors has already handled more than half of the number of cases they had all last year.