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DSNAP phone lines overwhelmed by callers, officials aware of the problem

"At one point yesterday, we were receiving 250 to 350 calls per second. Per second! Our call center vendor was just blown away."

NEW ORLEANS — There are 25 parishes that qualify to get disaster assistance funds from the state for groceries and hot meals. That's the DSNAP program you've been hearing about.

But you've also heard how difficult it is to reach the program for your phone interview.

The WWL-TV newsroom phone is ringing off of the hook with calls about problems getting through to DSNAP.

“I got through three times. It rang a total of about 30 times then they hung up on me,” said one caller.

“You can't get the phone. The phone had me holding on for an hour,” said another caller.

“Something should be done a different way, so we, that don't have food, can get some food stamps please,” suggested a viewer in her message.

The plea for help came in on Twitter too. The Louisiana Assistant Secretary for the Division of Family Support in DCFS, Shavana Howard, is aware of the problem.

“The volume of calls that we're getting is just not necessarily what we expected," she said. "At one point yesterday, we were receiving 250 to 350 calls per second. Per second! Our call center vendor was just blown away. They said they had never seen anything like it before, ever."

She says they planned for the high volume of calls and have figured out what's going wrong.

“Yesterday, we took over 11,000 calls," Howard said. "So, many people are calling in and calling in that it's jamming the phone lines, and we're just getting busy signals.”

There is a three phase system. Each week is set up to only take calls from certain parishes. Then each day of that week is set up only to take last names beginning with certain letters. But people are ignoring the schedule and calling all at once.

“I just want to encourage people to please apply on the phase your parish is scheduled in, and on the date we're serving your alphabet,” Howard said.

If you miss your assigned day, just call back on Friday or Saturday of that week assigned to your parish.  You will be interviewed, and know immediately if you qualify. And if you do, your debit card will reach you by mail in three to five days.

See the full schedule here.

If you get SNAP, your extra payment is already on your card, so you won't qualify for more money.

Qualifications are done case by case, since it depends on your income, family size, and the cost of your damage.

It is still helpful to pre-register to make the interview process go more quickly and smoothly.