Holiday, Florida - Nearly 10 weeks after filing for unemployment benefits, Lisa Blomquist had just about given up hope.
"I was in bed laying there crying, 'I had enough.' They put you through hell," said Lisa.
Then, on Friday, the call she had waited for since November 9thcame. An agent with the state's unemployment office left her a message. "Just wanted to inform you, you will start receiving payments on Tuesday."
Lisa said, "I was ecstatic, so happy they called me."
But Lisa said the call doesn't erase the frustration nor the pain and hardship caused by the state's new $60 million unemployment site called CONNECT.
"It was a nightmare, it was horrible ... It demoralizes you ... This is the worst website you can ever use."
A 10 News investigation showed the website's contractor, Deloitte, missed deadlines, and in 2012 state officials questioned its chance for success. While Massachusetts fired Deloitte for similar problems, Florida continued the contract. Technical errors have kept thousands of unemployed Floridians without benefits since the site launched on October 15.
Lisa said, "When you call the 800 number to leave name, phone, and so they can call you back, you can't. It disconnects you."
Lisa said she had to send in the same information four times. She was later told in a state issued email her claim had been held up due to a technical error. "What's wrong with this system? It's completely broken," she said.
The state agent told Lisa to expect her unpaid unemployment benefits by 3 p.m. Tuesday, but she is skeptical. "Not until I see it in my bank account," she said.
Lisa will use her unemployment money to repay family and friends who've been helping her out. Meanwhile, state officials say the emergency payments are temporary and if further review shows someone was not eligible for the money, they'll have to reimburse the state.
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