Destiny Harper has been without power since post-tropical storm Fiona slammed Prince Edward Island 18 days ago.
She’s been burning through money to feed herself and her baby, and to fill her generator with fuel.
So she was relieved to hear the provincial government would give $250 — administered by the Red Cross — to each household on P.E.I. affected by the storm.
More than 28,000 Island households have now received the money, but as of Tuesday afternoon, not Harper.
Despite registering online 10 days ago, she got a call from the Red Cross saying she needed to go to a reception centre in Charlottetown to validate her identification.
She made the half-hour trip from her home in Rose Valley on Tuesday to wait hours in line with dozens of others who were there for the same reason.
“So here we are with a 21-week-old baby sitting in line, with the potential of we ‘may or may not’ be seen.”
Many others in line could relate to Harper’s situation, calling the process complicated and confusing.
Stew Rogers said he heard one person say he missed his Thanksgiving turkey dinner while waiting in line.
“It should’ve never been done like this, it doesn’t make any sense to me,” Rogers said.
“Governments run support programs, payments all the time, that’s what governments do … I’ve never in my life had to wait 20 minutes, let alone four-and-a-half hours in a line just to receive government payment.”
The volunteer group Charlottetown Mutual Aid heard about the long waits and showed up with bottles of water for people in line waiting for their money. The group’s Kali Ross said people have been thankful.
People should’ve had this money in their pockets earlier.— Kali Ross, Charlottetown Mutual Aid
“We’ve heard from a lot of people that have been waiting many hours, which is not OK. People should’ve had this money in their pockets earlier. There shouldn’t have been so many hoops to jump through.”
Bill Lawlor, director for the Red Cross on P.E.I., said they have had to ask Islanders to show up in person to validate their identification in cases where their online system couldn’t match the person’s name and address.
“We just, at the end of the day, have to make sure we’re transferring these funds, whether it be on behalf of government, or the Red Cross through donors, that we’re getting it right. And sometimes I know the speed and the right conflict with each other.”
As well, the Red Cross said more Islanders than anticipated have chosen to register in-person, which, for the past couple days, has contributed to the long lines in Charlottetown and at its reception centre in Montague.
It plans to open up another centre in Summerside on Wednesday, and has started to give an appointment time for people waiting in line, so they can leave and come back.
On Friday, the Red Cross announced it would be distributing an additional $500 in financial assistance to those most in need after the storm.