SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla. People waited for hours in line and traffic backed up for about a mile Thursday to sign up for post-Irma food assistance.
A relief site is set up for Lee and Collier county residents from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31 at the Lee County Port Authority overflow parking lot at Southwest Florida International Airport via Chamberlain and Daniels parkways.
Thousands are expected, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is warning of significant traffic congestion on Daniels Parkway.
Those living in Hendry and Glades counties can get help from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 through Oct. 30. on Forrey Drive in LaBelle.
Families came from as far away as Tampa on Thursday to the site in south Fort Myers, but they’re likely to be turned away. Residents are only eligible to go to the site corresponding to their county, and income restrictions apply.
Applicants should attend only on the day corresponding to their last name as detailed in the schedule below:
Oct. 26: A – E
Oct. 27: F – I
Oct. 28: J – M
Oct. 29: N – P
Oct. 30: Q – Z
Oct. 31 Makeup Day
Oct. 28: A – P
Oct. 29: Q – Z
Oct. 30: Makeup Day
No overnight parking will be permitted and law enforcement will be present at both sites.
The Department of Children and Families and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have partnered to help victims of Hurricane Irma. To qualify, eligible participants need to live or work in an area classified for FEMA individual assistance on Sept 5 without using the food assistance program, SNAP, according to Food for Florida.
Applicants are encouraged to pre-register online, bring a government issued photo ID and arrive early as lines may close prior to 6 p.m., according to Food for Florida. Only the head of the household needs to be present.
MORE: Preregister for Disaster SNAP benefits; More than $1 billion handed out following Irma
Food for Florida issued the following qualifications for applicants who suffered a damage due to a disaster-related loss:
Lee County Transit will offer shuttles to transport people to Food for Florida from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Thursday Oct. 26 through Tuesday Oct. 31.
Passengers can connect to the shuttles by riding LeeTran’s Route 50 or Route 60.
The shuttles will pick up at LeeTran’s stop on Jetport Commerce Parkway and Daniels Parkway as well as the LeeTran stop at Gulf Coast Town Center.
Sen. Bill Nelson expressed outrage Tuesday on the Senate floor as his constituents and others wait in long lines for assistance.
“People are suffering and people are hurting,” Nelson said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Red tape just should not stop anyone in this country from having a safe place to live.”
Watch Nelson’s full remarks below: