Local, state and federal officials met with Chipley citizens Tuesday night at the Chipley High School auditorium to address concerns related to damage caused by Hurricane Michael, and to answer questions.
Representatives from various governmental agencies will also be at the Ag Center in Chipley, beginning Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Supervisor of Elections Carol Rudd explained the special exceptions that have been made to help the citizens of Washington County vote in the upcoming election. Early voting will begin on Saturday, October 27, and continue through November 3. Since a lot of the normal polling locations don’t have power, citizens will be allowed to vote at any of the precincts that are open, irregardless of where they are normally scheduled to vote. Election day voting will be held at Supervisor of Elections Office, Orange Hill Fire Station, Sunny Hills Community Center, and Vernon City Hall.
Several FEMA representatives were on hand to explain various programs that were available to help citizens get their lives back to a pre-hurricane condition. There were also workstations set up in the lobby to aid attendees in filling out paperwork necessary to start the assistance process.
Representatives from the US Army Corps of Engineers were present to explain the Blue Roof Program. They help by installing temporary roofs on damaged homes in order for residents to be able to stay in the home. There is no charge for this service. They may be contacted at 1-888-ROOF-BLU.
Washington County Superintendent of Schools Joe Taylor said the Florida Panhandle Technical College opened yesterday, teachers returned today, and students will return on Wednesday. Although there is a lot of damage in Washington County, our schools are in good shape. No paperwork will be required for students from neighboring counties to attend schools in Washington County, and Taylor stressed the importance of getting students back in school. He also stated that there will be no charge for breakfast or lunch from now until November 30.
Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews commended the friendly and helpful citizens of Washington County, and said that visiting law enforcement from throughout the state that were here to help commented that this was the “nicest place they had ever responded to.” He also stressed that fraud is already rampant in our area. He cautioned not to pay for anything up front and to be careful about making large deposits. Several arrests have already been made. “If they make you feel uneasy, call us,” stated Sheriff Crews. He said his department would be glad to check out any and all complaints and respond to concerns. He also reiterated the need to check out many of the free services available before paying a contractor: for example, the Blue Roof Program and faith-based volunteers for clearing debris.