Community comes together to build home in Marianna

More than four years after Hurricane Michael, one family in Marianna will soon have a new place to call home.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 6:38 PM CST
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MARIANNA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s been more than four years since Hurricane Michael -- and one family will soon have a home of their own after the storm.

Following Michael, the City of Marianna decided it wanted to help employees that were struggling to recover. City Manager, Jim Dean, told NewsChannel 7 that the city set aside funds, but it was years before something was done.

“You know it has taken a couple of three years, but we have now finally done one and I committed some money for Habitat for Humanity for some other homes here in this community,” Dean said.

The pilot home project has now become a group effort, thanks to a partnership between the City of Marianna, the North Florida Inland Long-Term Recovery Group, and other organizations.

“Oftentimes just one organization doesn’t have the resources to build a full home,” Kristy Terry, Executive Director of North Florida Recovery, said. “So, if we can bring all of our partners to the table and have them chip in what they can it really is a win-win for everybody and kind of extend those resources as far as they can go.”

According to Terry, this project has been in the works for nearly a year and could be a model for recovery projects across the country.

Terry also said components of the project include the city’s donation of the homesite, which was acquired through code enforcement, a portion of the city’s CARE finding that was set aside for the program, construction funds through the Jackson County Hurricane Housing Recovery Program, a partnership with the Chipola Baptist Association on permitting and logistics, and volunteer labor provided by the Orland Park Church from Illinois.

The celebration of all the hard work brought city leaders and others with the project together Friday to kick off the construction process and show city employee Damarco Graham his new home.

“It is really an honor to be here to celebrate someone that has dedicated themselves to our community and to our kids and just try to make our city a better city,” Rico Williams, City Commissioner, District 4, said.

Graham said he is a gardener for the city and keeps the area looking beautiful. He told NewsChannel 7 that he is thankful to have a place to call his own for his family.

“That’s everything to me knowing that I have something that I can leave to my kids. Some place where they can call home even if something was to happen to me, they will still have a place to call home. That is the most important thing to me,” Graham said.

Officials said that the home is expected to be completed within 6 weeks. Volunteers from the Orland Park Church will be arriving on Sunday and start work on Monday.