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Thousands at Pasco County Fairgrounds for Hurricane Irma D-SNAP food assistance program

Two weeks ago County postponed program to today
Posted at 7:45 PM, Nov 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 05:39:47-05

A food assistance center is now open in Dade City. Two weeks ago, ABC Action News was first to tell you about the hundreds of people left waiting in line unaware it had been postponed to Sunday,

It's bumper-to -bumper traffic along State Road 52 on the way to the Pasco County Fairgrounds.

“We were going to turn back but then we ended up not," said Anabel Pereira. A Cuban immigrant tagging along with her family and helping them with translations.

It's a two hour wait for most.

“It was a mess," said Angela Benavides. "Any direction you try to take. Any street. I kept going down different streets and it was just lines and lines of cars.”

Both women's' families lost power for days. Two months since Irma hit they are still struggling.

“It’s a necessity because a lot of families can’t afford just their day-to day expenses," said Pereira.

Although many around the Bay Area didn't see much damage at all. It was the power outages that made sure Irma was felt.

“I lost probably about $400 worth of food. My deep freezer--I lost all of it," said Rush Justice gripping his EBT card after hours of waiting on the roads and in lines.

Two weeks ago nearly 400 people were left frustrated and empty-handed. Unaware Pasco County postponed this program at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center.

“Then I called and she said, ‘They canceled it all’ and I’m like “Oh, they canceled it?'" spoke Benavides of the confusion surrounding the date and location change.

Sunday, many of those people returned. At the time, county officials say they had to cancel an agreement with the Department of Children and Families stating they simply could not handle this many people at that location.

“It is what it is, I’m not going to get a card if I don’t wait in this line," said Benavides.

At that's what we found here Sunday. A dose of realism and more than a pinch of patience.

DCF expects to help more than 7,000 families by the end of the Sunday. They stress, those who don't preregister can expect to add at least an extra hour of waiting though the process.

The fairgrounds reopen Monday morning starting at 7 a.m. The program lasts through Wednesday November 8.