Hurricane Michael cut a wide path of destruction in the Florida panhandle, impacting many of the state’s award-winning state parks. Likewise, many of the staff who work in these parks suffered loss and damage as well. They are rangers, biologists, managers, administrators, and support staff who serve, along with hundreds of men and women statewide, as stewards of the parks. These stewards are the heart of the Florida Park Service, working at modest wages and dedicated to maintaining, interpreting, and preserving the natural resources for the enjoyment of all visitors.   

Dozens of these hard-working, khaki-collar public servants have been impacted, with reports still coming in. Some have lost their homes or vehicles or possessions or all the above. The storm surge washed houses off their foundations and/or flooded through them, taking possessions with it and soaking everything left behind. Falling trees and strong winds tore through roofs and windows, leaving interiors vulnerable to heavy rains. In at least one case, a power surge sparked a fire that destroyed a home.

Today, these staff who are caretakers of the parks need to be taken care of as well. Please support their personal and financial recovery by donating to the James Cook Memorial Humanitarian Relief Fund which was established by the Florida Park Service Ranger Association in 1993 for exactly this purpose. The fund exists to assist park staff experiencing financial hardship. Since the fund’s creation, the FPSRA has distributed more than $140,000 to over 175 park staff in need statewide. 100% of donated funds go to park staff in need.

Post-Hurricane Michael Update

The Florida Park Service Ranger Association awarded 39 individuals a total of $33,200 for financial hardships directly related to Hurricane Michael.

Detailed below are some situations that really touched us while doing our best to provide these funds.  In some cases banks were closed so people could not access their personal funds and could not cash checks. Initially cash awards of $1,000 were given which was much appreciated. This was the first time that we were able to personally deliver cash so quickly and it was greatly appreciated by all. Every nomination for an award received some funds and the majority of nominations were acted upon and approved within the first hour after they were received by the James Cook Fund Committee. The Florida Park Service Ranger Association, an all volunteer organization, was honored to be there to support our FPS family in need and stands ready when financial hardships occur again. 

  • An OPS employee, a single mom with a teenage child, lost everything due to water damage and was staying with family 1 ½ hours away from her home.  She was down to her last $50 and because of her OPS employment status she was not receiving salary. Since her park was significantly damaged she didn’t even know if she would be able to go back to work.  When she presented with a cash award she was very grateful and emotional.
  • One employee asked how long he would have to pay the money back.  He was told it was a grant from the FPSRA (his park service family) and no need to pay back.  He was grateful and stated once he recovered financially he would be contributing to the James Cook Relief Fund.
  • A Park Manager whose house was flooded and lost most all of his personal belongings was more concerned about the welfare of his employees than his own.  He asked that we take care of them first.  He later made a significant contribution to the Relief Fund.
  • One Park Manager used the funds he received to feed his co-workers and the crews from around the state that were working in the hurricane impacted parks to clear debris.  Although he and his wife had a tree on their home, lost 3 vehicles and had no power they used their camper to prepare food for others.

The Florida Park Service Ranger Association stands ready when financial hardships strikes again within our Florida Park Service family.

Help a Park Ranger and donate online today!

Mission - Supporting the Florida Park Service, while striving to perpetuate the FPS family atmosphere and provide assistance to past and present employees in need. 
Vision - Perpetuate the close family atmosphere of the Florida Park Service
Motto - Family, Service, Traditions

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