Sep. 15—An estimated 180 Haywood County Schools staff members and students have been displaced by recent flooding, and a community of supporters have surrounded them with kindness.
Most of those displaced are concentrated at Bethel Elementary, Bethel Middle and Pisgah High School, said Jenny Wood, director of the Haywood County Schools Foundation.
"I've deposited over $40,000 in donations, so far," Wood said, noting the funds will be distributed once families learn what will be covered by FEMA and insurance. "We know there will be needs not covered by those."
Meanwhile, others are donating gift cards worth thousands of dollars that are being distributed to flood families. The cards come from Ingles, Walmart, Lowe's, eating establishments and other businesses. The gift cards are being grouped to provide families a variety of cards to cover immediate needs, Wood said, adding the goal will be to distribute gift cards every couple months as long as they last.
"I feel like we've addressed the immediate needs of food and getting kids the clothes they need," Wood said, explaining that the gift cards will go a long way toward helping until longer-term answers are available.
Bethel Elementary School, for instance, has $6,000 in gift cards to hand out, while the school foundation has received another $5,000 in gift cards.
Wood said individuals have been dropping off gift cards at the central office in Waynesville at 62 Joy Lane or mailing them to the school district at 1230 N. Main St., Waynesville.
Wood said she isn't sure where displaced families are staying for now, but suspects a lot are living with family or perhaps at campgrounds. "These are on top of the 200 or so homeless students we usually average at the end of the school year," she added.