Thousands gather for flood-relief money

October 16, 2008 3:05:42 PM PDT
Thousands of people lined up outside a Blue Island government benefits office Thursday morning looking for help to repair their flood-damaged homes. The Illinois State Police was called in the help control the crowd. Many people arrived very early Thursday morning. Once the office opened, the staff was overwhelmed, and for those trying to get help it was another difficult experience as they try to recover from last month's floods.

The situation became unmanageable. An ambulance was called for one woman, Blue Island police shouted directions to the crowd, and eventually the state police was brought in.

"They're just trying to get help. I can't believe how they're just throwing these applications over the balcony," said Patricia Robinson, would-be applicant.

It happened outside the South Suburban Family Community Resource Center. Typically, the center dispenses state public assistance, but in recent days the center began offering emergency disaster relief after last month's flooding. And the crowds have grown.

"I ask them to patient. I explain to them what's going on. Most of the people are very understanding and say, 'Just tell us what we're doing and why we're doing it,' " said Mayor Don Peloquin, Blue Island.

"Overwhelmed. That's not a surprise. Overwhelmed, yes, very much so. I think we have our office which will probably be receiving some of the overflow. I'll be traveling there once I leave here," said Joseph Mason, IL DEPT. OF HUMAN SERVICES

This center was one of two designated in the south suburbs to offer food assistance to those affected by the flooding last month.

Thousands of residents had damage, lost items and food as a result of the flooding. Seven counties were declared a disaster area last week.

As word spread about the food assistance available, more residents have come. Add in a temporary computer shut down Wednesday night, and Thursday morning there was much frustration.

But many of those who made it inside Thursday said they're grateful to get the help.

"To lose everything, and now the government or FEMA or whatever organization it is, is helping out, I think it's great," said Frank Brassel, applicant.

The Blue Island office will stay open longer hours to accommodate flood victims. They were to stop taking applications Friday, but they've asked to extend the application period through next Wednesday.

FEMA says there have been over 7,000 flood victims requesting assistance and there are more people yet to register.


Load Comments