More than 50 percent of county in still without electricity and/or water
CALHOUN COUNTY, FL – Two weeks ago, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle, devastating those in its path. Since then, the citizens of Calhoun County have united and worked together towards recovery. Located just 50 miles inland, more than 50 percent of the 15,000 residents are still without electricity and water. Immediately, groups of individuals mobilized to create a network to collect and distribute necessities and supplies throughout the county. Volunteer fire departments and churches activated to serve hot meals, offer encouragement, and provide their neighbors with all they could to help them sustain through some of the darkest days Calhoun County has ever seen.
After the initial shock began to wane, many children inquired about Halloween plans since it was clear that walking through any neighborhood would be impossible. There was not a single street or neighborhood in the county that would be safe for children to “trick or treat.”
Soon, parents began “tagging” the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce on social media asking if where they could take their kids for Halloween. It didn’t take long to see that even if it wasn’t a concern of the adults, it was definitely a top priority for many children. Chamber Executive Director Kristy Terry began exploring the potential for a community-wide event. She knew they would need a large open space, and plenty of parking. However, almost every open space in the county was staged with utility trucks, emergency response vehicles, law enforcement, or other disaster relief vehicles. There was one space that was still open, though – the Blountstown High School football field. The “Home of the Fighting Tigers” was not undamaged – bleachers had been picked up, twisted and turned, and dropped onto the field, but players had helped Coach Beau Johnson clear debris from the actual field. Terry approached Calhoun County School Board Chair Danny Ryals, and asked if there was any chance the school board would be willing to host an event to provide an afternoon of “relief” for the youngest Calhoun Countians. The next day, the school board voted unanimously to support the effort and provide the Chamber of Commerce with whatever they needed to coordinate a successful event.
With a week to plan, volunteers got to work asking for candy donation, enlisting groups to set up “candy stops” and games. Once word began to spread, organizations from all over the southeast offered to send candy, bouncy houses, supplies, and more. Groups held costume drives to pull together Halloween costumes, families offered to set up their salvaged decorations, and individuals signed up to do whatever they could to help.
All are invited to attend the FREE Calhoun County Candy Walk this Sunday, October 28, 2018 from 2 to 5 p.m. CT at Bowle’s Field, 17149 NW Charlie Johns St, Blountstown, Florida 32424. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/277497203104981/.