If you're heading out to a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) Food for Florida site in Palm Beach County Wednesday be aware that there may be "soft" closes throughout the day as traffic backs up on major roadways surrounding the sites.
In Lake Worth, people were turned away at John Prince Memorial Park at times throughout the day, then allowed back in when traffic started to clear.
"It is worth it, for six hours, yes," said Patricia Islas of Jupiter who said she waited for 6 hours to get into the park.
It took a lot of patience and perseverance for thousands of people to make their way through gridlocked streets early in the day. But once they made it through the lines and had their DSNAP benefit card in hand, they were happy.
"(I received) $357 per month," said Islas.
When it rained it poured for Islas. Hurricane Irma not only caused her to lose power but her job too. The cruise ship she works on was moved for FEMA's use in the Virgin Islands.
Households of two to five people received between $350 to $700 worth of food stamps for the months of September and October if they lost power because of Hurricane Irma.
"When you have a hardship and there's nothing that can be done usually," said Miriam Cavnar-Ragan of Boca Raton. "So all the food was gone and then my refrigerator went out because of the power surge so five days after the hurricane I still had no refrigerator."
Before and after the hurricane many had to use their credit cards to make ends meet.
"I'm working to put back, pay the credit card bills," said one woman who wanted to go by the name Monica.
Thousands are seeking the much-needed help in Palm Beach County, but traffic turmoil caused confusion on the first day. PBSO deputies are only allowing people to come into John Prince Memorial Park in cars and they can only enter through Congress Avenue traveling north.
"The first time I got here it was 6 a.m. and it was crazy. You couldn't figure out how to come in," said Redonna Thomas of West Palm Beach.
Cavnar-Ragan went to the Delray Beach location first but was turned away.
"I got there at 6:30 a.m., and they shut the whole line down," she said.
Then she came to the Lake Worth location. The Florida Department of Children and Families is asking people to stay alert about traffic flows and patterns through the news and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office's social media sites.
The sites are open every day serving people in the order of their last name, but a DCF spokesperson said you won't be turned away if you can only come out on a day that your last name is not being served.
People said the longest wait times were in their cars, but once they got in line they made it through in an hour or less. Lines also moved quickly in Belle Glade for people who pre-applied online.
The sites open up again at 7 a.m. Wednesday and will be open until 6 p.m. every day through Saturday. Traffic and pedestrian entry is allowed at Lake Ida West Park in Delray Beach and at Glades Pioneer Park in Belle Glade. At John Prince Memorial Park in Lake Worth, you can only enter by car.
— Michelle Quesada (@M_Quesada) October 17, 2017