Seven locations of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) were impacted by Hurricane Matthew, a storm that swept through the state Oct. 9, bringing widespread flash floods and abnormally high river flooding in eastern N.C.
Photo by Kennedy Home
Weather reports estimated rainfall as high as seven inches per hour at peak.
“We must repair and restore these houses while staying focused on our residents,” said Michael Blackwell, BCH president. “These boys and girls are at BCH because of the trauma that has impacted their lives and these circumstances will certainly add to that.”
BCH’s Kennedy Home in Kinston was evacuated due to a campus-wide power outage caused by fallen trees and high water levels, according to a BCH press release. BCH residents – boys, girls and single mothers – were accompanied by houseparents and staff to the organization’s Mills Home campus in Thomasville where they remained until Oct. 16. No injuries have been reported.
BCH leaders are in the process of estimating the extent of weather damage. The nearby Neuse River crested Oct. 15 at 28.3 feet – nearly 15 feet above flood stage. Floodwaters broke the record height by a foot.
Blake Ragsdale, BCH director of communications, said Kennedy Home residents and staff are “very resilient.” He also said local churches have provided nearly all meals during the evacuation, allowing houseparents and staff to “focus solely on the well being of the kids.”
Odum Home in Pembroke lost power and residents were evacuated to a local high school gymnasium for the duration of the storm. Once conditions improved, residents and staff returned to campus. A generator is providing electrical power to the Odum Home gym, and electricity was restored to part of the campus Oct. 14.
Cameron Boys Camp and Camp Duncan for Girls, BCH’s residential wilderness camps in Moore County, both experienced power outages and fallen trees. The campers spent two nights indoors and then returned to their campsites.
Power at both camps has returned. There appears to be no substantial damage but conditions are still being assessed. Three of BCH’s Family Care homes – Oak Ranch near Sanford, Britton Ministries in Ahoskie and Smith Home in Marston – lost power briefly but seem to be in normal condition.
Ragsdale said, “Everybody’s safe, warm and dry. That’s a fantastic thing.”