Jackson County Long Term Recovery Group is brainstorming ways to help their children

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MARIANNA, FL. (WTVY) - The North Florida Inland Long Term Recovery Group is working to ensure all aspects of the community's needs are being met. One area the group is focusing on includes children in the Jackson County School System.

"We've identified over 2,860 students have been impacted by the storm and their living situation has changed," said Michael Kilts, Committee Chair for Schools in the North Florida Inland Long Term Recovery Group.

That's roughly 44% of Jackson County's student population.

Kilts says "Majority of our students is living in sub-standard housing, such as: roof damage, windows, doors, electricity, and water...things like that."

Some of these students have two or three family units living under one roof.

"We have over 550 of our students living in doubled-up situations and we still have a handful of our students living in hotels, tents, campers....things like that," replied Kilts.

Those conditions are making it hard for students.

Kevin Yoder, Chairman for the North Florida Inland Long Term Recovery Group, says "We're watching children in our schools and in our churches really struggle. Even when a small thunderstorm comes through, it raises their anxiety level and their fear."

As of right now, attendance in school has increased drastically.

"Kids actually want to go to school because it's a safe place, it's a neutral, it's a place with air conditioning, and it's a place where they can get some food," replied Yoder.

The school board for Jackson County wants to create a stable learning environment for their kids.

"For next school year, we've already started looking at the next school year, we are trying to secure school supplies for every single student...making sure they start off the school year without having to spend more money on school supplies," said Kilts.

The reach goes much further than the classroom.

"Our system is a feeder of information to the long term recovery group about the needs of the community," said Kilts.

"We pay attention to what a disaster does to the youngest of our population and we help them process those fears. We help them process their anxieties and we help them get in a more stable family setting as far as housing and the consistency of a daily routine," said Yoder.

The long term recovery group will brainstorm different ways they can provide for these children and teenagers during the summer when school is no longer in session.

The group meets every third Thursday of the month, starting at 10AM.
The meetings take place at the Rivertown Community Church in Marianna, FL.