MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Tens of thousands of South Floridians who suffered losses due to Hurricane Irma stood in line to receive emergency food stamps on the third and final day of the state’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program.
The Florida Department of Children and Families organized the event, which was held Tuesday through Thursday at two relief sites: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami-Dade County and the BB&T Center in Broward.
In the first few hours of Thursday’s distribution at Hard Rock Stadium, more than 7,000 families received pre-loaded access cards. The Miami Gardens venue opened nearly an hour and a half before its scheduled 7 a.m. opening time.
Miami-Dade resident Adela Perez said organizers handled the process expertly. “Very organized, a lot of people, but it went well,” she said.
Wednesday afternoon, Hard Rock Stadium reached capacity, and organizers had to cut the line off.
But that has not been the case on Thursday, as aid recipient Willie Stewart can attest. “In about 30 minutes, maybe, I made it out,” he said.
Stewart said he was able to work his way through the line for people with special needs and head out with his access card.
This is the second time this fall DCF has handed out emergency foot stamps in the wake of Irma. Back in October, thousands of people showed up at the four assistance centers at Miami-Dade and Broward counties, so this time around, DCF said they took steps to ease the burden.
“We had a program last month that there were more people to be served, so we asked for an extension for three days, and this is the last day of the extension,” said DCF spokesperson Gilda Ferradaz.
Crowds also filled the floor of the BB&T Center on Thursday.
Broward County resident Marcela Taylor said it all went smoothly for her. “I did think it was going to be very complicated. I thought there was going to be a mix-up and everything, but there wasn’t,” she said. “It was pretty organized.”
“The lines were pretty big, but once I got in, it was fast,” said another recipient.
A woman was surprised by the big lines. “I never knew Florida had that many residents,” she said. “I don’t know where the people come from.”
The three-day event had been divided by residents’ last names, but even though Thursday had been set aside for recipients with last names from Q to Z, organizers welcomed any residents who were unable to attend their assigned day earlier in the week.
The event is scheduled to end at 6 p.m. For more information, go to www.myflfamilies.com/fff.