Florida Town Battered By Fires, Floods Faces Its Greatest Crisis: Money


There's a tiny rural town located in Florida's Panhandle that's filled with farms, overgrown green grass, ATV's, and kind-hearted residents. 


Caryville was home to more than 1,000 people in the 1930s, but due to fires and floods hitting the town like clockwork every few decades has left the town with fewer than 300 residents and in a state of financial emergency. Some would call it a dying town. But to the people who live there, Caryville is home and it always will be. 

The trestle bridge, located in Caryville, Fla., which allows trains to cross the Choctawhatchee River, is seen on Oct. 2, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

The trestle bridge, located in Caryville, Fla., allows trains to cross the Choctawhatchee River. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Jimmy Cooper (left), 69, Henry Chambers (middle), 79, and Steve Vrivor, 77, sit outside of Petro gas station, the only gas station in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. These three men sip their coffees, smoke a cigarette or two and hangout to start their

Jimmy Cooper (left), 69, Henry Chambers (middle), 79, and Steve Vrivor, 77, sit outside of Petro gas station, the only gas station in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. These three men sip their coffees, smoke a cigarette or two and hang out to start their mornings. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Becky Pate, 70, a Caryville council woman and the previous owner of Petro gas station, is seen taking out change to give to a customer on Oct. 3, 2020. Petro is now owned by Casey and Mandi Pate, Becky’s son and daughter in-law. It’s the only gas station

Becky Pate, 70, a Caryville councilwoman and the previous owner of Petro gas station, takes out change to give to a customer on Oct. 3, 2020. Petro is now owned by Casey and Mandi Pate, Becky’s son and daughter in-law. It’s the only gas station in Caryville, Fla., and is where most people stop by for breakfast. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Phil Harris (left), 66, is seen driving around his grand children, Anna Harris (middle), 7, and Gracie Harris (right), 12, on his ATV, an all-terrain vehicle, on the backroads of Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. Most people in the town have an ATV and ri

Phil Harris (left), 66, drives around his grand children, Anna Harris (middle), 7, and Gracie Harris (right), 12, on his all-terrain vehicle, on the backroads of Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. Most people in the town have an ATV. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Brutus, an english bulldog, is seen at Micheala French and Thomas Lawson’s home in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 2, 2020. French said Brutus will be a two-year-old on March 23 and was adopted on May 10, 2019. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Brutus, a 1-year-old English bulldog, belongs to Micheala French and Thomas Lawson. French adopted him last year. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Thomas Lawson, 27, a welder at Blackwoods Buildings and Truss LLC., is seen riding an ATV, all-terrain vehicle, through the backroads to M&M Farm on Oct. 2, 2020. Most people in Caryville, Fla., drive ATVs around the town’s backroads.  (Emily Felts/Fresh
Thomas Lawson, 27, a welder at Blackwoods Buildings and Truss LLC., is seen riding an ATV, all-terrain vehicle, through the backroads to M&M Farm on Oct. 2, 2020. Most people in Caryville, Fla., drive ATVs around the town’s backroads. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)
Michala French, 25, a teacher at Mossy Head School, located in DeFuniak Springs, Walton County, Fla., is seen opening the gate to M&M Farm on Oct. 2, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Michala French, 25, a teacher at Mossy Head School, located in DeFuniak Springs, Walton County, Fla., is seen opening the gate to M&M Farm on Oct. 2, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Eight cows are seen on M&M Farm, located in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. M&M Farm grows strawberries along with other fruits, depending on the season, and has cows, one large hose named “mini” and miniature horses. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Eight cows are seen on M&M Farm, located in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. M&M Farm grows strawberries along with other fruits, depending on the season, and has cows, one large horse named “Mini” and miniature horses. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Thomas Lawson, 27, a welder at Blackwoods Buildings and Truss LLC., is seen holding a baby goat at French Family Farm, located in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Thomas Lawson, 27, a welder at Blackwoods Buildings and Truss LLC., holds a baby goat at French Family Farm, located in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

A pink and blue sky is seen as the sun sets over French Family Farm, located in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)
A pink and blue sky is seen as the sun sets over French Family Farm, located in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)
People are seen celebrating Kaiden Russel’s seventh birthday by having a small party at the community center in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. This community center is also where the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas festival are held each year. (Emily

People celebrate Kaiden Russel’s seventh birthday by having a small party at the community center in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. Thecenter is also where the town's annual Thanksgiving and Christmas festivals are held. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

Caryville’s Town Hall is seen on Oct. 3, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)
Caryville’s Town Hall is seen on Oct. 3, 2020. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)
Marilyn Russel (back left), 61, from Bluntstown, in Calhoun County, Fla., is seen pushing Madelyn Fawler, 5, while she swings next to Wesley Stanley, 6., at the Caryville Community Center park on Oct. 3, 2020. They are celebrating Kaiden Russel’s seventh

Marilyn Russel (back left), 61, from Bluntstown, in Calhoun County, Fla., pushes Madelyn Fawler, 5, while she swings next to Wesley Stanley, 6, at the Caryville Community Center park on Oct. 3, 2020. They are celebrating Kaiden Russel’s seventh birthday. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

A group of boys are seen playing basket ball at the community center in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. This is the only basket ball court in the town. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

A group of boys play basketball at the community center in Caryville, Fla., on Oct. 3, 2020. This is the only basketball court in the town. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

A “Welcome to Caryville, Fl. Worm Fiddlin Capital Of The World Annual Festival,” sign is seen on October 3. 2020. Becky Pate, 70, a council woman for the town, said the worm fiddling festival is one of the more popular events that takes place each summer.

Pate said the worm fiddlin' festival is one of the more popular events that takes place each summer. Whoever digs up the most worms win. (Emily Felts/Fresh Take Florida)

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