State opens 2 programs for hurricane job seekers

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief

CHATTAHOOCHEE, Fla. - Thousands of people are either unable to work or their jobs disappeared with Hurricane Michael's winds, but the state has activated two programs to help get people back on their feet.

Chattahoochee Florida, 40 miles west of Tallahassee, is in shambles. The already distressed Main Street now looks like a ghost town. 

“There are a lot of people all over the Panhandle, in so many counties and  communities, that not only don’t have a job, but don’t have a place to go if there was electricity because so many buildings don’t have roofs and a lot of buildings don’t exist anymore, so they can’t open,” said Cissy Proctor, director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The state has set up a mobile jobs center in Chattahoochee, and in dozens of other places. 

Aquilla Washington worked in a day care center until Michael hit.

“All the windows are out and a tree fell down in the middle of the day care center,” Washington said. “Hopefully they can get me another job so I can get what my kids need because I lost all the clothes and everything.”

To help people such as Washington, the state has activated two programs. 

The first is Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

“It’s not all your wages, but it can help you get through some tough times,” Proctor said.

The second program will pay people such as Washington to help in the recovery efforts.

That's her first choice.

“I can help clean up the debris. I can serve food. I can do all that,” Washington said.

The center in Chattahoochee was supposed to close at noon Thursday, but was open all day. 

The good news is that people can collect Disaster Unemployment Assistance and get paid to help with the recovery.

Just how many are out of work is an unknown. The unemployment figures for Michael won’t be known until just before Thanksgiving. 

The spike in unemployment is expected to drop sharply in the following months.  

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.