At one point the line stretched around the block Wednesday morning. Thousands of people lined up for hours hoping to qualify for immediate disaster food assistance as a result of last April's historic floods.
The state began taking applications Monday. As word has spread, the number of people lining up at family community resource centers around Cook County has increased exponentially. The office at 4105 W. Chicago Ave. on the West Side is by far the busiest.
"People were camped out since 10:00 yesterday because we are giving out tickets for people we weren't able to service yesterday," said Aida Sanchez of the Illinois Department of Human Services.
"The carpet was damaged, the appliances -- the washing machine and dryer was messed up, any food that we had down there in the deep freezer was just completely wasted away, so it's a good thing that they're helping us get back on our feet from this," said aid applicant Porshue Bolden.
Both new and existing food stamp recipients can apply for the relief. To be eligible for the food benefits, individuals must live in specific impacted ZIP codes, have had damage to their home or business, paid disaster-related expenses that were not reimbursed, and have had a loss or reduction of income as a result of floods between April 16, 2013 and May 15, 2013.
"We're prepared to do as many as we need to. There is an eligibility criteria and we'll go through that and some people while they're coming in, they're being denied because they got their maximum benefit so they're not eligible for any more," said Sanchez.
Those who get aid approved should receive it within about five days. People must apply in person and can do so through Friday at any of the state's family community resource centers.