Irma victims line up for help in Polk County

- They came, they processed, they moved on.  Food for Florida staffers finished their work in Polk County Wednesday night, four days after they began. In that time, they worked through an estimated 36,000 applications.

The line of people looking for help after Hurricane Irma snaked around the R.P. Funding Center. Most waited about two and half hours before they sat down to discuss their situation.

“It is not incredibly hot today,” said Janet Fortune of Lakeland as she stood in line. “People have been incredibly helpful handing out water. There are restrooms, and the crowd has been very patient.”

Wednesday saw the biggest turnout, in part because of the last-minute rush. There was also another reason. The event in Pasco County had been cancelled, so residents came to Lakeland to apply for food stamps.

Despite the number of applicants, the long line moved comparatively quickly.  Two hundred fifty staffers churned out one application after the other -- about 1,000 an hour.

“We have been going strong since 7 a.m.,” said DCF administrator and agency spokesman Bill D’Aiuto.

D’Aiuto says Food For Florida has given out about $836-million so far. The money comes from The United States Department of Agriculture.

The Pasco event has since been re-scheduled. It will take place at the Pasco County Fairground, and run from Sunday, November 5, to Wednesday, November 8.

In addition to the upcoming event in Pasco County, others are planned around the state. Even though Food for Florida would prefer that you register and go to the site in your area, it has been accepting applications from people in any area affected by Irma.

LINK: Application locations and schedules

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