South Florida families confused as FEMA disaster centers open

MIAMI (WSVN) - Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery centers in South Florida have begun working to get those in need registered for aid, but some families looking for food stamps have been left confused.

FEMA workers have been providing assistance on the first floor of the Stephen P. Clark Center, at 111 N.W. 1st St., for weeks.

“Anyone that had damages due to Hurricane Irma, to their home, their property, personal property — that includes furniture, TVs,” said FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance worker Clay Henry. “Basically, anything that they may have lost or that was damaged, that could potentially be reimbursable.”

The FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams are registering individuals impacted by Irma, updating their records, checking statuses and answering questions, including offering advice on how to make appeals if necessary.

There has been some confusion at this location, with people showing up hoping to sign up for food stamps.

“We had a lot of people coming by thinking that we were the State of Florida, and it’s still going on today,” said Henry. “We feel really bad because we can’t help them.”

People are confusing FEMA’s work with Florida’s Food for Florida Assistance Program, which was held across Miami-Dade and Broward counties over the past several days. Relief centers that were opened last Saturday had to close early due to what officials called “health and safety concerns.”

The hot South Florida sun took a toll on a woman who, officials and witnesses said, passed out while waiting in line to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) access cards to purchase food.

Thousands who lined up for SNAP benefits were told no more aid would be handed out on Sunday. A man who waited in line said, “I really appreciate this moment here. It’s a blessing.”

The Florida Department of Children and Families are working to extend this program later in October for those who were turned away.

FEMA said they will continue to provide help through their disaster recovery centers across South Florida seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

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