A public library in the Florida Panhandle was devastated by Hurricane Michael when the Category 4 storm touched down in October 2018. Photo credit: SCUS / Save the Children, Oct 2018.

Hurricane Michael destroyed home, schools and child care centers in the Florida Panhandle and devastated nearby communities in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Save the Children was there, thanks to the generous support of our donors, working to change the lives of vulnerable children.

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Hurricane Michael Map of Path

Save the Children delivered critical supplies to families in need. 

Facts, Figures and What You Need to Know About Hurricane Michael

Exactly 13 months after Hurricane Irma barreled into the Florida Keys on September 10, 2017, Hurricane Michael struck Florida’s Panhandle with even stronger wind gusts and greater speed.

The massive storm, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, was the most intense on record ever to hit the region. With no prior record of any such storm, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children and families braced for the worst.

By the time the storm was over, many child care and early learning centers across the Panhandle, including more than 60% in Bay and Calhoun counties, were damaged or destroyed.

“In addition to losing their homes and access to education, children have lost their sense of security and need time and help to heal emotionally,” said Sarah Thompson, Save the Children’s director for U.S. emergencies. “Save the Children is dedicated to supporting the wellbeing and education of Florida’s children for the long-term.”

FAQs: What you need to know about Hurricane Michael

Who was affected by the storm?

Hurricane Michael’s path affected some of Florida’s and Georgia’s poorest counties. With high rates of poverty, they were the least able to absorb the storm’s fury.

Already, by midafternoon on October 10, 2018 many homes were underwater. Nearly 78,000 people were without power. At least 600 child-care providers and 539 schools were in the direct path of Michael.

“Loss and displacement during disasters can affect children for years to come,” said Sarah Thompson, Save the Children’s director for U.S. emergencies, “and it’s critical children and families return to normalcy as soon as possible – as well as get the essentials they need during this difficult time.”

How has Save the Children responded to Hurricane Michael?

Save the Children is the national leader in helping restore child care and early education centers after emergencies.

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, Save the Children‘s team provided immediate support for children and families affected by the storm. More than 6,500 diapers and nearly 700 hygiene kits and 150 packages of baby wipes were distributed to families.   

Our teams also established Child Friendly Spaces in evacuation shelters in areas disrupted by the storm. Child Friendly Spaces are safe, designated areas where children can play, socialize and begin to recover after a disaster, while allowing their parents to concentrate on addressing immediate and longer-term recovery needs.

“Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program provides children a safe, small group setting to explore and normalize emotions, develop healthy coping skills, build confidence and foster positive peer relationships,” said Thompson. “It can be a very scary and stressful situation for kids. Their homes might be destroyed, they might not know when they'll get back to school, and they might not know where their friends are.."

How can I help hurricane survivors?

Nobody knows when the next emergency will strike, be it an earthquake, flood or hurricane. But we know children suffer most when they do. That's why Save the Children's caring professionals are prepared to help vulnerable girls and boys during disasters and their aftermath.

We continue to lead hurricane relief efforts in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and in Texas and Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

A donation to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund will help support the urgent needs of children and families. Please donate now.

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