78-year-old man warms up after surviving six days in freezing cold

By WEEK Reporter

February 7, 2014 Updated Feb 11, 2014 at 10:41 AM CDT

SAN JOSE, Ill. -- To help Illinois residents stay out of the cold, Governor Pat Quinn promised many low-income families financial help for propane heating costs. For 78-year-old San Jose resident Al Pherigo, Friday felt like a good day.

"It's about 62 degrees in here now, but yesterday it was 39 degrees yesterday morning," said Pherigo.

He finally had heat, after surviving six days in the cold in his San Jose home.

"My doggy and my cat live here, and I'm not going to leave for no one," said Pherigo.

Even though his thousand gallon propane tank went dry last week. His social security income was not enough to buy more.

"You start to think, 'Are you going to freeze to death? What's going to happen to me?' " said Pherigo.

Governor Quinn promised $1,000 to every household in the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. So Pherigo called the Springfield office and his local Community Action office only to be redirected more than five times.

"I called back to Springfield and said something had to happen because I was freezing to death in my home," said Pherigo.

Literally freezing. He had two frozen toes, and the steel rods in his leg and bag from previous injuries did not help.

"I sat here on my couch shaking," said Pherigo. "I'm not kidding you, I was shaking all over."

However, the same day of his final call, he got his money.

His local Community Action office credited him $1,000--approved by Governor Quinn--which bought him 250 gallons of propane.

"Oh, it felt like a new world to me," said Pherigo. "Now, I can get the furnace working and start heating my home again.

While Pherigo's story had a happy ending, he's worried that many other will not be so lucky.

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