Opening of the resource center for victims of fires and tornadoes

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Beginning Monday, March 14, those affected by the Chipola Complex fires and recent tornadoes can visit the Community Resource Center on 11th Street.

Representatives from DCF, the Florida Department of Health in Bay County, and the CRC case manager are ready to help people get the help they need.

Rebuild Bay County Executive Director Donna Pilson said the community has stepped up to help those in need after the Chipola Complex fires and tornadoes.

“Individuals, households, organizations, businesses — they donated in a variety of ways,” Pilson said.

Rebuild Bay managed shelters for evacuees from the Chipola Complex fires.

She said they are now preparing to help people return home.

“Most of them were able to return home, but there could be damage to their homes,” Pilson said. “If they smell smoke, it’s a warning and we have to make sure they understand it.”

Pilson said he received a lot of physical donations, but now they are asking for cash donations.

“Just like we saw after Hurricane Michael, we had lots of water, lots of Gatorade and we still have it and we’ve made it available to evacuees, but we’re also asking for funds because we know from Hurricane Michael that we’re reaching another phase where the water just won’t make it,” Pilson said.

So far they have been able to raise $25,000 for those affected by the recent events.

“It just allows us to be more flexible in how we can support our residents,” Pilson said.

State programs will also be available at the Community Resource Center.

However, Pilson said monetary donations are important because even though state programs receive more funding to help those affected by these events, she said people don’t always meet the eligibility criteria to get state funding.

The CRC no longer asks for physical donations such as food and clothing. In addition to cash, they suggest people bring gift cards.

The CRC will open on Monday, March 14 at 9 a.m. The resource center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until traffic begins to slow.

People can also call (850) 215-8702 for assistance.

The CRC is located at the AD Harris Learning Village at 819 E. 11th Street, Panama City, FL 32401.

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