Long lines as Illinois residents seek flood assistance on deadline day for food aid

June 21, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Friday is the last day to apply for disaster food assistance as a result of extensive April flooding in Chicago and the surrounding areas. The line spanned many blocks as people lined up hoping to qualify.

Hundreds of people also waited in the heat and the rain in Skokie on Friday, where the line also went for blocks. The same scene was replicated throughout Illinois as thousands lined up at family community resource centers in the city and suburbs.

"My family needs help and if somebody is offering it to us, I think that would be a great accomplishment for us," said Jennifer Jones, flood victim.

The state began taking applications Monday, and as word spread, the number of people lining up at the centers increased dramatically.

Both new and existing food stamp recipients can apply for 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.

"I'm just trying to feed my family. . . My washer and dryer went out, I lost my furniture, my couch, my TV, my pool table, my deep freezer, everything," said Danielle Patterson, flood victim.

The spring floods left tens of thousands of homes across the state badly damaged. After touring hard-hit areas, Governor Pat Quinn promised state and federal relief for residents.

"We knew by Wednesday that Thursday and Friday the lines would be super long, so we were very, very prepared for this," said Nelly Smyser-DeLeon of the Illinois Department of Family Services.

Thousands of those residents continued to wait for hours Friday. The deadline for food flood aid is 1:00 p.m. Friday, but if people are still waiting in line at that time, they will receive a ticket. Residents must bring back the ticket next week in order to apply for the aid.

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