The severe ice storm that struck the area on Friday, March 7 battered Mills Home in Thomasville, leaving a trail of damage and children’s cottages without power. The ice that covered Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s (BCH) oldest residential campus uprooted trees, brought down limbs and caused power lines to fall.
The children remained safe in their cottages protected by their child care workers and staff, but it is estimated that the damage to the campus will cost the nonprofit tens of thousands of dollars.
“Our staff is among the finest you will find at any child care organization across the country. They took excellent care of our boys and girls during the four days the campus did not have power,” says BCH president Michael C. Blackwell. “We are now turning our attention to a massive repair and recovery process.”
The campus operates on power supplied by both Duke Energy and EnergyUnited. Workers from both companies, along with tree removal experts, worked during the weekend and all day Monday. Power was restored to Mills Home late in the afternoon.
Blackwell and other members of BCH’s leadership were on-site this weekend to survey the damage.
“While fallen trees caused some building damage, none of our children’s cottages were struck,” Blackwell says. “One of our Family Care homes for single mothers and their children was hit by a tree in the non-residential part of the building. Trees and limbs blocked many of the campus roads and driveways. A couple of signs were destroyed.”
One of the most substantial losses occurred because of the extended power outage. The large supply of food stored in the walk-in freezer at the campus food locker as well as food kept in cottage refrigerators and freezers was lost.
“This was sizeable. We lost thousands of dollars in food alone,” Blackwell explains.
BCH has set up an “Ice Storm Disaster Recovery” fund at www.bchfamily.org/givenow, the children’s homes’ online donation webpage.
“As a nonprofit, we greatly depend on the generosity of others to meet the needs of the children and families we serve,” Blackwell explains. “Whether it is food, grocery store gift cards or financial donations, we are hopeful the community will rally to help.”
Volunteers are also needed to assist with cleanup. Volunteers with North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), the nation’s second largest disaster response organization, arrived at Mills Home on Tuesday.
“The work of North Carolina Baptist Men is amazing,” says Blackwell. “We are so grateful for their quick response. And we are also beginning to receive calls from others who want to help.”
Since 1885, BCH has provided residential homes to children from a variety of circumstances ranging from family dysfunction to abuse, neglect and abandonment. Within the challenges Mills Home faces due to the ice storm, Blackwell says there is also a powerful message that is received by the children who live there.
“Our children, who have often endured unimaginable difficulties, see hope through the actions of those who help. When friends come to Mills Home to remove limbs, bring food, or make a financial donation, children know beyond any doubt that there are caring adults who love them and have their best interests at heart.”
Anyone wishing to help with the Mills Home relief can contact BCH at 336.474.1224.
NCBM have also been responding to other areas hit by the winter storm. Hot meals were prepared for a shelter in Graham, and a POD (Point of Distribution) team is working in cooperation with Guilford County Emergency Management and Pleasant Garden Baptist Church. They are providing bottled water and hot showers to Pleasant Garden community residents.
Currently NCBM has three sites arranged for relief: Alamance County, Davidson County, and Guilford County. Volunteers are needed to help homeowners recover from the damage.
Money will also be needed to provide resources for the response. A Winter Storm 3.7 Relief Reserve fund has been set up. 100% of the proceeds given will be used in these disaster relief and rebuilding efforts. Anyone wanting to donate can do so through Baptists on Mission’s website or mail a check designated for Winter Storm 3.7 Disaster Relief:
North Carolina Baptist Men
P. O. Box 1107
Cary, NC 27512-1107
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Blake Ragsdale is the director of communications at the Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina. BR content editor, Michael McEwen, contributed to this report.)