System glitch halts registration for DSNAP hopefuls

Published: Mar. 26, 2016 at 2:22 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2016 at 9:33 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The computer system is back up, but not before frustrations flared in Shreveport as hundreds were turned away from applying for disaster food assistance benefits.

A few thousand people lined up Friday to look for help after the recent flooding. Then the computer system at the application center in the technical college on North Market Street malfunctioned.

"The system is down; we have 23 parishes doing this all at one time," said Debra Cloud, administrator of the state Department of Children and Family Services' Shreveport region.

She admits things got hectic Friday as at least 700 people were in the line at one time for disaster services. That's more than double the number workers have seen since registration began Monday. At least 3,500 applicants were from Caddo Parish.

"I've waited almost 3 hours, now I am just disappointed," Pat Coleman said after learning it would be impossible for her to apply Friday for Disaster SNAP benefits.

The computer system being used to process people's applications for benefits was struggling to keep up with demand, Cloud said. But instead of turning people away, she and her staff switched from electronic to paper processing.

As the line of people grew and some grew restless, the tension eventually boiled over.

"We have a creek behind my home, so you know the floodwater came all the way up," said Coleman, adding that she would return Saturday to start the process over fresh. "I have a special needs son; every inconvenience does matter."

DCFS officials say they were able to process 3,500 applicants on Friday. In the state, 13,730 households were approved for SNAP benefits.

So far, DCFS has issued $5,085,214 in disaster benefits.

Officials say registration will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday, the last day to register. People with last names starting with L-Z will be serviced Saturday as a make up day.

The gates will close at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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