This scorching heat wave has destroyed crops, caused widespread power outages, and worst of all, led to the deaths of more than 100 Americans. The heat poses the greatest threat to our most vulnerable citizens -- children, the disabled, and the elderly. For those who cannot afford air-conditioning, the high temperatures will continue to be life-threatening. But because of LIHEAP, we have been able to make this dangerous heat wave safer for thousands of Americans.
This Summer's Heatwave Had A Serious Impact On American Families. The summer of 1998 has taken a toll on communities and families across the nation. Data released by the Commerce Department's National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center shows that July 1998 set a new record for global temperature, making it the hottest month since reliable records began in 1880. In fact, every month this year has set a new record for average global temperature for that month. Farmers have seen crops devastated by drought and heat, and children, the elderly, and those with limited resources have suffered. In the South and Southwest, where the heat has been most dramatic, the deaths of over 100 people are attributed to heat-related causes. President Clinton is working to help farmers who have lost crops, and low-income families who are having difficulty paying cooling bills.
Presidential Assistance In A Time Of Need. Today, the President will announce the release of $50 million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to the eleven states most effected by this summer's heatwave: Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Mississippi. The release of this money will provide additional assistance to these states to help address the threat posed by persistent extreme heat. LIHEAP provides assistance to low income families to help meet their home heating and cooling needs.
Continuing Our Support For Families In Distress. As summer temperatures have soared in the South and Southwest, the President has acted to ensure that additional assistance goes to States suffering from persistent heat. On July 23, the Administration released $100 million in LIHEAP funds to the eleven states hit hardest by this summer's heat wave. Since this disbursal of funds, weather conditions have and will continue to be monitored to determine if emergency weather conditions will necessitate an additional release of LIHEAP funds.
Helping Farmers During A Difficult Time. This week, President Clinton signed a law that will allow farmers to receive their regular support payments earlier than usual. This measure is necessary because America's farmers have been hit hard by lower crop prices, a string of natural emergencies, and financial stress on the agriculture market. By speeding up these payments, this law will help many farm families, particularly those facing financial difficulty through no fault of their own. This new legislation builds on steps the President has taken to help farmers during this difficult year. Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture purchased 535,000 tons of wheat for donation overseas. This purchase is the first step in the President's plan to purchase more than 2.5 million tons of wheat to help strengthen our crop prices and meet our humanitarian needs overseas. In addition, the President has called on Congress to enact $500 million in farm disaster aid, particularly for farmers who have suffered multiple natural disasters in recent years.
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