Video: Hurricane food lines

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/9/2005 7:43:08 PM ET 2005-11-10T00:43:08

At the Orange Bowl, the line in the hot sun stretched for blocks Wednesday, as tens of thousands of hurricane victims applied for emergency food stamps.

When officials began taking applications in Palm Beach County, people actually ran to get in line, some pushing baby carriages.

For the next few days, the state of Florida is offering food money to low-income residents hit hard by Hurricane Wilma. What's striking is these are people who normally aren't considered poor enough to qualify for food stamps  but who now are in serious trouble.

"This is for those people who because of the hurricane have had their financial stability pretty much destroyed," says Flora Beal with the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Jenny Gonzalez is a teacher's aide with three children. Her home was damaged, and the food in her refrigerator was spoiled. This is first time she's ever applied for public assistance.

"To recover has been really hard after the storm, so it's really great that they are helping us," she says.

Others in the long lines had suffered similar losses.

"We lost a lot of food," says one woman. "We had to buy food every day, batteries, candles."

To qualify, the applicants must have lost work and income because of the storm, suffered damage to their homes or lost food when the power stayed off. Those who qualify will get a one-time debit card that can be used at select grocery stores. A single person is given $152. A family of four gets about $500. State officials say this food program is expected to help 4 million Floridians.

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