Volunteers help people living in tents get back on their feet

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - There are hundreds of people sleeping in the parking lot at the Forest Park United Methodist Church.

Now many don't have the resources to get back on their feet or get home.

At just 19 years old, Cierra Ledebuhr came from Mississippi to help with recovery efforts.

"I'm stuck here basically, cause no one wants to pay around here," said Ledebuhr.

And that's how she found herself living in a tent in an area she's never been to.

"I mean, it makes me wanna cry, it really does," said Ledebuhr.

While many residents of the tent city came here with a plan to work, now they're making a plan to go elsewhere.

"The people that walk around the camp every day to make sure everything is good, they talk to us about plans with working, they try to get us up on our feet," said Ledebuhr.

Shawn York with the Alabama West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church is one of those who check on the tent city. He wants to lend a hand to those who came here to do the same.

"We have set up a specialized team of skilled navigators to work with the individual needs of the residents here in tent city," said York.

York says this solution isn't a one size fits all.

"Part of our navigational work will help us to determine the population ratio of the residents from Panama City, those that maybe came here as contractors seeking employment and then also the others that were homeless before the event," said York.

This way...

"I came here with $300, I thought that was gonna be enough," said Ledebuhr.

Those who came to help, can get help going home.

"They're gonna help us get on our feet and get us in somewhere warm to be in," said Ledebuhr.

The city is mandating tent city closes by December 10th so those living there are working against the clock to come up with a plan.