In a illustration of people’s desperation for government aid, thousands of Philadelphia residents affected by Hurricane Irene waited in line throughout the day on Monday and into Tuesday morning for emergency food stamps, meant to help those whose food was destroyed by the storm:
Thousands of Philadelphia residents gathered in long lines, citywide, waiting hours outside of 12 County Assistance Offices, hoping to apply for relief following Hurricane Irene.
The residents, many confused and lacking official information, hoped to receive a month of food stamps for food ruined by floods and power problems caused by the hurricane. [...]
Those already receiving food stamps are eligible for partial relief, to the extent that their prior month’s food supply was damaged. Throughout the day Monday, and beginning early Tuesday morning, many state offices had lines stretching for blocks with confused residents, many alerted by other neighbors that relief was available.
Lines at one aid office were so bad that local police closed it down entirely. “I just feel that they’re not coming out here and addressing everybody properly. Everybody’s confused. I’ve been standing out at the front of the line for a while,” said one resident, Jennifer Sherwood.
But while poor Pennsylvanians struggled in line all day with little or no guidance, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) provided no apology or explanation for why the process was so badly managed by government officials. Instead, he focused on restricting eligibility and blamed the influx of poor people seeking aid on an “urban legend” about eligibility. Watch it:
The incident serves as a painful reminder that thousands of people continue to suffer in the wake of a recent string of natural disasters, and that low-income families have been particularly hard hit.