Severe traffic temporarily closes lines at Food for Florida event

SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla. People were turned away in the final hour of sign-ups Tuesday for post-Irma food assistance.

Lee County Sheriff’s deputies closed Chamberlin Parkway shortly after 5 p.m., before the scheduled 6 p.m. closure of the Food for Florida registration site in the overflow parking lot at Southwest Florida International Airport.

Assistance was rendered to an estimated 8,000 households on each of the first five days of the six-day registration event for Lee and Collier County residents.

The program provides food stamp-style financial aid for those who suffered hardship because of Hurricane Irma. The site has been open since Oct. 26, serving eligible participants on staggered days determined by last name.

Tuesday was reserved as a makeup day for all regardless of name, and potential applicants jammed nearby Daniels Parkway and Interstate 75 before morning rush hour. That prompted the sheriff’s office to temporarily bar access to anyone who hadn’t already turned onto Chamberlin Parkway until traffic eased.

Still others waited in line to get on Paul J. Doherty Parkway from Daniels Parkway, guided there by GPS systems. But it was the wrong entrance to the site — that route had been closed from the beginning by the sheriff’s office.

Other sites are open throughout Florida, but only for residents of the assigned counties, as detailed here.

MORE: First Food for Florida disaster assistance site opens in SWFL

Reporter:Andrea Henderson

Taylor Bisacky