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Anger Grows as Flood Aid Deadline Nears

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Friday is the last day to apply for federal food aid for people in northwest Illinois who were hurt by strong storms that swept through the area in late July, flooding basements and knocking out power. But frustration is growing among those who say the application process is moving too slowly.

The line for food stamps outside the Illinois Department of Human Services office on the West Side stretched more than a block Thursday afternoon.

Chicago resident Tina Clark was at the end of it.

CLARK: The lines are just ridiculous. Who wants to be out here for four, five, six, seven, eight hours?

Clark says she’s waiting to get reimbursed for food she had to get rid of after storms knocked out her electricity.

Seven counties have been declared disaster areas by the federal government, opening the way for millions in disaster aid to people whose homes were damaged by the strong storms.

The state is distributing federal disaster aid at five offices across Chicago.

CLARK: They knew that they was gonna do this for the people - which is a good thing - but they should’ve been better prepared. They should’ve had more offices.

Up the line, Velma Taylor - and several others - echoed those complaints.

TAYLOR: I’m just tired of waiting. You know, you’re hungry, they should be passing out food...

Abut $4.7 million in food aid has already reached nearly 10,690 households, according to Illinois Department of Human Services spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus.

But she says, despite extra staff and longer hours, their offices are simply overwhelmed. The department isn’t taking food assistance applications at other locations due to staffing shortages, she says.

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