State DFACS director surveys Hurricane Michael damage

Published 4:15 pm Friday, October 19, 2018

Tom Rawlings, the state director of the Division of Family and Children Services, visited Bainbridge and Decatur County Wednesday morning to survey storm damage.

“Frankly I was very shocked at how widespread the damage was,” Rawlings said. “All the cotton was blown away, the pine trees snapped; this will cause significant economic impact for years to come.”

However, Rawlings wants to make sure DFACS is here to take care of people who will suffer from this economic disaster.

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Rawlings approved to early release food stamps benefits for people in need of them right now. He has also had a number of questions about replacement benefits and has allowed approximately 800 people to get replacement food stamps because of the power outage and losing the food they had already bought.

Rawlings has also been checking in with the local foster children. He said all of the children have been accounted for and that DFACS has not had any issues regarding the foster care location.

He reminded everyone that if a family with a foster child had to relocate or evacuate their area due to the hurricane to let them know at the state level. Rawlings said they are more than willing to help in these types of situations.

During his visit, Rawlings checked on the families staying at the American Red Cross shelter and made sure they had proper plans for when they leave, so the transition can be as seamless as possible and the children can remain comfortable.

Currently, one DFACS is still out of service and that is the one in Seminole County, so they are working in the Decatur County office, but Rawlings has nothing but praise for all the team members who have worked through these adverse conditions.

“I have been really proud of our employees,” he said. “They all have things that need attention at their own home, but they have come in to make sure our most needy families are taken care of.”

Rawlings also praised the community in general. He said he has been impressed that even among the destruction, he has seen nothing but smiles and people helping others.

“It is a true sense of community,” Rawlings stated.

Rawlings is very confident that the region will be built back better than ever and create an even tighter knit community than before.