MARIANNA, Florida – Urban Search and Rescue efforts will continue over the next few days. Units have traveled to Jackson County from Ohio, New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana and Virginia Beach. The Florida Fish and Wildlife law enforcement division in conjunction with the Jackson County Fire Department are performing wellness checks on residents throughout the county.
Anyone requesting a wellness-check may do so by calling (850) 718-0019.
“The entire county received severe damage,” said Kristie Cloud, public information officer for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. “We have a tremendous number of homes that received damages or destroyed, businesses severely damaged, and a county office that is completely destroyed.
According to Cloud, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office received severe damage and the Jackson County Road and Bridge Office is destroyed.
Jackson County officials are scheduled to assess all county offices the first part of the week to determine which offices can reopen to serve the residents of Jackson County.
“After all the damage is assessed, it will be determined what offices can reopen, only if it is on a rotating basis,” Cloud said. “We know our residents need services, and we are working really hard to determine what can be done.”
Several Jackson County Schools received some sort of damage, except for Marianna High School.
“Marianna High School was built to serve as a shelter for Jackson County, and it received no damage,” Cloud said. “At this point we are looking at all schools starting back around Nov. 1.”
The shelter stationed in Marianna High School still has plenty of room for residents needing refuge.
The school can house 400 people, and currently the shelter is housing 27 special needs residents and 170 general public residents. The Red Cross is also set up on the school campus.
“At this time, I can’t give an estimate on how long the cleanup process will take,” Cloud said. “I can tell everyone residing in Jackson County that everyone is working together. We have neighbors helping neighbors, and our faith-based organizations have come together to help any way they can.”
Several areas in Jackson County are still without power as of Monday. The prime areas are currently working off of generators. Florida Public Utilities currently has 130 linesmen and other employees working nonstop trying to restore electric services as soon as possible. An additional 130 linesmen were scheduled to resume work Monday.
“We have 22 engineers expected the first part of the week to bring supplies to assist with the electric needs in the county,” Cloud said, adding that a redesign of the electrical grids is under consideration.
“Right now, Florida Public Utilities is working on getting the substations back up and running,” Cloud said. “Everything is taking time, but everyone needs to understand our area received tremendous damage. I also want to commend the employees of Jackson County, especially those involved with the infrastructure of our county. Everyone has worked around-the-clock and they should all be commended.”
Four emergency pods have been set up throughout Jackson County providing residents with relief items including MREs (meals ready to eat). Pods are located at Chipola Family Ministries, 3018 Highway 71 North, Walmart in Marianna (which will relocate to Riverview Church on Tuesday, located on Highway 90 in Marianna), First Baptist Church in Cottondale; and 2010 Legion Road in Sneads.
Following the storm, a water boil notice was issued for the entire county. However, the City of Marianna has lifted its boil notice.
“At this time our residents still have needs that need to be met,” Cloud said. “The community is in need of diapers and baby formula. Anyone wishing to donate any of those items or maybe a hot meal, it would be greatly appreciated. Everyone is working together as hard as they can, but the community still needs help, and for those who have helped or are helping the residents of Jackson County, thank you so much.”
For additional information on donating relief items or meals, call Coba Beasley at 850-573-1465.