Residents of the Huxford area found out the Escambia County school system’s new slogan “We Are One”  doesn’t just apply to the classroom but to the entire community.

When a tornado destroyed or damaged several homes in the Poarch community, school employees jumped into action to help those affected.

Due to the severe weather forecast, Friday, March 18 was designated a remote learning day. But after news of the damage hit, Huxford Elementary opened its doors and became a staging center for those who lost their homes, some of whom were the school’s own students.

Principals, students, teachers, cafeteria workers and members of the executive staff pitched in to help. By the end of the day, 200 meals had been cooked and delivered to the families in need. Wind Creek provided rooms in their Holiday Inn Express and put up several families who suddenly found themselves homeless. It was a true community effort to help clean up the damage while providing food and shelter.

Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson told WALA-TV that about nine mobile homes were destroyed and two people were taken by ambulance to the hospital. No deaths were reported, and Jackson's office said in a statement that none of the injuries was severe.

“We had one guy that was in his mobile home when the storm hit," Jackson said. "He was asleep. He said when he woke up, he was in the woods. So, you know, obviously, the good Lord was looking out for him."

Everyone was accounted for, but the damage was substantial, he said. Photos on social media showed what appeared to be pieces of a mobile home atop a pickup truck with pink insulation and broken lumber scattered around a residential area.

“It's devastating, and those people have nothing left. We are so thankful that nobody was killed or severely injured,” Jackson said.

Suggested donations for those affected are gift cards at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores. In addition, the “Family Assistance Fund” account has been set up at First National Bank & Trust in Atmore.

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