Long lines lead to trouble for people seeking flood assistance

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - More than a dozen police officers were called to a Memphis food stamp office Monday after a disturbance that may have stemmed from recent floods.

Video from Chopper 5 showed hundreds of people lined up Monday afternoon hoping to receive food stamps and cash designated for flood victims.

Some said they stood in line for more than six hours. At around 3:00 p.m., arguments began to break out as people apparently tried to cut in line.

"It was like a big knot at the front, a line back there, but at the front a big knot," said Cyril Wilkins, who witnessed the altercation. "It looked like there was going to be some trouble, because they were all pushing and shoving."

Once police arrived, Wilkins said, things calmed down.

According to the Department of Human Services, more people came to get food stamps Monday than expected. After serving 700 people Saturday, officials said they had already seen 500 people by 3:00 p.m. Monday.

Households with one to two people can receive $250. Households with more than three people can receive $500.

To receive the cash assistance, you must sign a declaration stating that your home needs repairs and that your income doesn't exceed 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. You also must register with FEMA.

DHS is also replacing food stamps for people whose power was out for over 12 hours during the storm. MLGW says there were 8-thousand customers in Shelby County whose power was out that long. DHS is verifying the power outages with a list sent from MLGW.

April Berry says she's heard of some people who are trying to take advantage of the system.

"Some of these folks lying," Berry said. "You hear talk around town on the bus, I'm fixing to go down here and get some stamps, I'm fixing to go down here and get some money."

Food Stamp replacements for power outage victims will be offered until Friday. The cash assistance for flood victims ends Thursday.

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