September 13, 2017

The strain of hurricane Irma was evident on the faces of hundreds of Key West residents who lined ramps of the Searstown Publix Tuesday awaiting the first round of ration handouts.

Some waited more than 2 hours in the heat for the distribution, which consisted of two meals ready to eat (MRE’s) for each person in line, provided by a partnership of the National Guard and local law enforcement according to guardsman Sean Traster.

At noon a handful of people sat on the west steps of the building, by 3 p.m. the entire ramps were filled shoulder to shoulder.

At some point an unknown person began distributing numbers to people in the line, which ended up having nothing to do with the distribution.

Several men in the front of the line yelled at passerby to go to the end of the line, as they had been there for hours.

At 4:30 p.m. Traster arrived and addressed the crowd, beginning with those at the front of the line. He instructed them to move in an orderly fashion around the side of the buildings to the garden center where a distribution center had been set up.

“If you received a ticket on the side of the street, that does not mean anything,” he said. While some in the crowd ran, most walked and the distribution went smoothly, with approximately 4 pallets of MRE’s delivered, according to Alyson Crean spokesperson for the city of Key West.

Walking away without taking MRE’s, resident Shannon Enright said she was disappointed in the lack of ice and water after waiting since 1:00 p.m.

“We stand in line for all this time…and now they give you this, military rations,” she said “this is what you get, they give us no water, no ice.”

Responders returned shorty after to distribute water to those still there, Crean said. Another distribution occurred immediately after in Bahamas village, also 4 pallets.

Leftover meals were delivered to the senior center along with water and gasoline. Crean said Two daily distributions are planned for the coming days but details are unknown as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.