COCOA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The cars snaked around the Cocoa Expo Center as Brevard County residents lined up for Hurricane Irma relief cash. Inside, more people stood in line, waiting more than half an hour for service. But once people like Isaiah Velazquez sat down with a staffer, what a relief it was.
“I did not expect this kind of money - almost $200,” said an astonished Velazquez, “I was low-balling it, I'm not a greedy person. I was happy with a hundred, fifty, anything. Something to help. The fact that they tripled that - it's a blessing!”
The government is handing out cash through the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) there and at other centers across the state through Wednesday. Anyone who can prove they were a legal Florida resident during Hurricane Irma can qualify to get the cash. DCF has tried to make it a simple process: first, people pre-register online, then they come in and sit down with a staff member who reviews their case.
Then they get handed a debit card, said Kristi Gray, from DCF. “They will leave here with an EBT card that, within 24 hours, the benefits they've been approved for will be posted on that card.”
Recipients can receive less than a hundred dollars to several thousand depending on their needs. They can use it for anything storm-related: food, home repairs, hotel bills, and more. Velazquez said he'll use his money to replace the food that spoiled while he and his family were out of power.
“We can stretch it,” he said, “I'm looking at about three weeks with just this. We can stretch it, we shop really well.”
People with high-incomes or substantial savings may not qualify for the cash. The same goes for people on welfare, who've already gotten larger payments because of the storm. DCF said about ten thousand people have already signed up there for the cash, they expect that number to triple by Wednesday.