People talk about the long lines outside John Prince Memorial Park this week during the Hurricane Irma food aid event.
Sure, thousands of cars were snaked around Congress Avenue, onto Lantana Road, then back onto Interstate 95 as folks waited for hours to get inside the park to pick up their stamps.
There’s also been lip service paid to the expensive cars waiting, with some people saying, “Who are these people and why do they need stamps if they’re driving such nice cars?”
But what about the people who do need the money?
A Wellington woman, who didn’t want to give her name, is one of those people.
She sits on a chair, feeding her friend’s young daughter while talking about how Irma knocked out power in her home for four days.
“This is important to us because we lost a lot of food,” the mother of four said. “The money will provide food for the children. We went through a lot during the hurricane.”
The woman looks tired. She said she’s been waiting since 5 a.m. That’s about seven hours.
“It’s been a long day,” she said.
Efraen Rivera, a 48-year-old Lake Worth man wearing a New York Yankee cap, can relate.
He said he lives in mobile home that also suffered some damage during Irma. He said he lost his construction job right after the storm.
“If I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid,” he said. “I had the job for five years.”
Rivera smiles. I’m waiting for a joke or a funny comment. Instead, he says the following.
“Oh, yes, and my car isn’t working,” he adds.
Moilex Esstiverle, another Lake Worth resident who was born in Haiti, hopes to pull in about $400 in stamps. He said his wife, also applied for herself and their kids.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said.
The program, Food for Florida, is part of the Department of Children and Families’ Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, called D-SNAP. The program, which ends Saturday, provides food assistance in 48 Florida counties impacted by Irma.
Annette McSwain, an event worker, said Thursday and Friday were good days compared to the first two.
“I heard there were a couple of incidents by the highway,” McSwain said.
To alleviate some of the aggravation, on Wednesday, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies did not allow people to line up in their cars until 6 a.m. When the park opened at 7 a.m., they were allowed to drive inside.
People are not allowed to walk in and have to be inside a vehicle to get inside.
“It’s a lot smoother now,” McSwain said.