PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Thousands of Philadelphia residents gathered in long lines, citywide, waiting hours outside of 12 County Assistance Offices, hoping to apply for relief following Hurricane Irene.
The residents, many confused and lacking official information, hoped to receive a month of food stamps for food ruined by floods and power problems caused by the hurricane.
The program, called Disaster SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), was created by the federal government and is administered by the State Department of Public Welfare.
Because of unexpectedly large turnouts, the application process was moved from Disaster Recovery Centers in Philadelphia to the 12 state offices in neighborhoods citywide.
Residents, based on income, household size and proof of flood-damage can receive up to a month’s worth of food stamps.
Those already receiving food stamps are eligible for partial relief, to the extent that their prior month’s food supply was damaged.
Throughout the day Monday, and beginning early Tuesday morning, many state offices had lines stretching for blocks with confused residents, many alerted by other neighbors that relief was available.
Little if any guidance was available at offices in the early going, although later in the day, officials did permit applicants to fill out forms outside the building instead of waiting for hours in line.
Officials emphasized that anyone seeking relief would have to present proof that they lost food due to a power outage or flooding from Irene. They also have to present proper identification and their relief, if any, would be based on their income and household size.
The application period, which began last Tuesday, ended at 7 p.m.
All applicants are expected to be notified if they will receive relief within 24 to 48 hours.
Reported by Walt Hunter, CBS 3