State Steps In to Help Franklin Co. Oystermen - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

State Steps In to Help Franklin Co. Oystermen

Posted: Updated:
Eastpoint, Fla. -

A crisis in Franklin County is putting residents in a bind, forcing them to ask for help or possibly starve.

For Marcie Thompson a mother of 5, a ticket means she can feed her family. "For the past 4 months, my grandma has had to make our light bill for us."

She's just one out of hundreds, having a hard time paying for bills, many of which showed up to the Eastpoint fire house on Wednesday.

"Well I see people around here that I have never seen ask for help. So that means that we're having it pretty bad." Toni Turner says.

The people in line say they like to stand on their own two feet, rarely asking for a government handout. But if the seafood industry continues to fail them, they'll be left with no other option.

"I'm a single mamma of 31 and I've been oystering since I was 20 years old and now I am not got the money to afford to feed my kids." Turner says.

The area is trying to recover from poor bay conditions. Governor Rick Scott told local officials the lack of freshwater is to blame. Meanwhile, several state agencies were on hand to work on short-term relief. It's estimated that more than 25-hundred jobs are affected.

"Unfortunately it's like a perfect storm, of eclectic events that have now devastated a lot of families." Department of Children & Families Secretary David Wilkins says.

In the long run, the governor hopes to gain congressional support to increase the flow of water from Lake Lanier. But since the Army Corp of Engineers says a government mandate won't allow them to do so, he's looking at other options.

"We need to bring in a lot of businesses, there's no reason that we couldn't have more businesses here that are going to Mississippi or Alabama or Georgia, or Tennessee or Kentucky. They should be here in Florida." Governor Scott says.

But until then, it will be up to the community to step in and to provide resources, for those who are just more than a number.