It looks like most, if not all, Maui County residents who lost power during Hurricane Iselle have gotten back online, though thousands of people across the state remain in the dark (and heat) even now. We forget sometimes that losing power in the tropics causes more trouble than simply forcing us to cope with high humidity–it also spoils food, which can be devastating for poor people on government assistance.
According to the state Department of Human Services (DHS), about 98,000 people in Hawaii receive such assistance (Maui County’s share of that is 12,000). Thankfully, state officials say that those on the federal Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP–fka “food stamps”) can get reimbursement for any damaged goods caused by the recent storm.
“To qualify for reimbursement, the affected household must have been participating in the SNAP when the disaster occurred, and report the loss to the DHS Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) within 10 business days of the severe weather event,” states an Aug. 12 DHS news release. “The deadline to submit reimbursement requests for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.”
Basically, SNAP recipients have to provide the DHS a signed statement that contains five pieces of information:
• Name of the storm and the dates it impacted you
• A general list of food items lost due to storm-related power outage
• The length of time that your power was out
• A statement that you’re aware of the penalties you’ll incur if you lie about this stuff
• And statement that you’re aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned within 10 days
Got all that? Good, because BEFORE you do all that, you also need to contact the BESSD Processing Center with your case file and ask for any additional instructions. If you don’t know which center has your file, call 808-586-5720 and they’ll tell you.
Photo of food stamps from 1941: National Archives/Wikimedia Commons