Thousands line up to meet deadline for flood aid

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Frustration boiled over in West Pullman and across the Chicagoland area.   A 1PM deadline this afternoon left Illinois aid workers scrambling to process huge numbers of applications for food aid.  Storms in April created record floods in communities across Chicago, adversely impacting nearly 40,000 households that are still struggling to recover.

“This is a mess.  It’s not organized,” complained Chloe Nelson of Chicago, when it comes to long lines in West Pullman.  “People are cutting in front of other people.  And the lines are all messed up.”  The new funds, released through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP for short, are issued by the Federal government.  But it falls to the Illinois Department of Human Services to disperse the money.  And there was simply no way Human Services could get to all the people before the 1PM deadline.

Across the Chicagoland area, in offices across Cook, Lake and DuPage County, it was a similar picture.  At sunrise, WGN’s Skycam 9 captured pictures of lines stretching for blocks.   From Gurnee to Wheaton to Stickney and the far South Side of Chicago, few communities were spared.  And for many, the process of getting federal aid money has been frustrating, to say the very least.

In West Pullman, with the 1PM deadline come and gone, applicants won a reprieve when state officials made a decision.  To help those standing still standing in line, state workers issue cards to those still outside – telling them to come back next week.

“Those who are in line now will be serviced,” vowed Lavonne Banks with the Illinois Department  of Human Services.  “These folks in line are receiving a card that’ll allow them to return Monday or in some cases, Tuesday.”

But with the ordeal of standing in line for 24 hours, in the summer heat, many say there has to be a better way of dispersing these badly needed funds.

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  • Concerned and Angry!

    I know for a fact some of these people are NOT in need of this assistance. I work with one who didn't even live in the flood area and still she got $1000 plus so did her family members! And she wasn't even asked for information. How is this possible? Why is it that these people can do this and get away with it? Can't this be done better so this money goes to people who really need it? Shame

  • Enrique

    Deny what they perceive is owed to them and they go into a violent rage with allegations of racism. Who dares to say no? Why are they lining up now?

  • Slow to Anger

    WGN's reporter Julian Crews comments were disrespectful and insensitive to those who stood in line for hours. Obviously, none of his elderly family members had to stand in line in the 80+ degree weather; but mine did. I think his reporting would've been a bit more tactful had he been affected in any way. I quote "…all of this for less than $400 in assistance." In an emergency, any amount is helpful and NEEDED. I personally know many families who suffered significant losses in property and food. Most of "these people" have very limited funds to replace things due to their fixed incomes. It is only natural that "these people" would seek assistance regardless of the dollar amount. Furthermore, the information reported by Mr. Crews was inaccurate and misleading. The telephone number and website given to apply for DSNAP assistance was to FEMA who could not assist individuals with this program. The only way to qualify was to go to the local aid office, stand in line and wait patiently for your turn. Instead of individuals coming across as judgmental, be thankful to Almighty GOD for your blessings and THIS time you are not the one in need for help.