Businesses feel effects of busy DSNAP sites

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana National Guardsmen, mounted police and even helicopters patrol the state disaster relief site on Airline Highway at Choctaw Drive. With more than 1,200 filing in before the lunch hour, the state estimates it will be the busiest site in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The relief program, which has already visited more than a dozen other parishes, follows a routine.

But it has been anything but ordinary for a handful of nearby businesses.

"We depend on walk-in customers. You have to be able to get in here. We don't do anything off site. So you have to be able to get here for us to take care of it," Gerry Varnado said.

Varnado said his family business, which works on large commercial engines, has already been impacted by the process. One of his delivery guys, Sherman Brown, was delayed by a roadblock directing traffic in and out of the D-SNAP site.

"I had to go all around the old Sam's store, come around through the parking lot, and then come back around on the service road," Brown said.

Varnado said drivers are having a hard time maneuvering the tight turns at the intersection near his shop.

"Traffic has been hard getting in and out and we have some customers obviously complaining about it, and it's been difficult for us to get in," Varnado explained.

Trey Williams with the Louisiana Department of Family and Child Services said the state relies on law enforcement to set up and control traffic flow in and out of the relief sites.

"We work with local police, state police and National Guard and DOTD to come up with the best traffic scheme that will impact as little as possible the traffic around the site," Williams said.

But Varnado fears a week of the same routine will, no doubt, hurt his bottom line.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, unofficial totals show that 3,326 households whose last names begin with A-C received DSNAP benefits on the first day sites were open in East Baton Rouge Parish.

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