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Florence displaces children, campuses suffer damage

After having barely recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew almost two years ago, Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) has once again sustained major damage.

Children, cottage parents and staff at four of BCH’s Eastern North Carolina locations evacuated ahead of the storm. Kennedy Home in Kinston, Odum Home in Pembroke and Cameron Boys Camp in Cameron came to Mills Home in Thomasville while the girls from Camp Duncan in Aberdeen stayed at a local church.

While the storm brought destruction and hardship to the Carolinas, it could not bring down the spirits of the children and staff.

“We have stood tall in the face of this catastrophic storm. We may bend, but we will never break,” says BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell. “As we assess our losses and begin to recover, our prayers go out to all those who have felt Florence’s destructive force.”

The primary damage occurred at Kennedy Home in Kinston, which was dealt $1.5 million in damage from Hurricane Matthew, and Mills Home in Thomasville.

Damage appears to be minimal at Odum Home in Pembroke, and at Cameron Boys Camp and Camp Duncan, both in Moore County.

There is water damage inside McNeill Home at Indian Beach as well as damage to the dock.

At Mills Home, trees fell hitting two buildings knocking out power to half the campus for a short period. Volunteer and professional crews worked to remove the trees, remove others in danger of falling, and clear debris from buildings and grounds.

Kennedy Home was hit the heaviest as water rose flooding the property and damaging several buildings. Wind and rain also brought down trees and damaged the power system. Lines and poles fell causing a power outage that lasted almost a week. All the perishable food in the cottages was lost as well as items in the food locker’s walk-in cooler and freezer.

After the flood waters receded, Kennedy Home director Brian Baltzell, a team of staff members, and volunteers returned to assess damage and begin cleaning up.

“We thank God for our friends and all they do to help keep children safe and meet their needs,” Baltzell says. “We are truly grateful for all they have done and will do.”

It took prolonged efforts and financial support to help Kennedy Home, as well as BCH’s other impacted locations, recover from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. There are still issues stemming from Matthew being addressed at Kennedy Home.

While assessments are being made, details emerging regarding Kennedy’s losses are:

  • Roofs on several buildings and cottages need repairing.

  • Exterior and interior doors and windows at some buildings need replacing.

  • The campus gym, which was critically damaged in Matthew, requires repairs.

  • Cedar Dell ceilings were damaged and the basement flooded.

  • Problems causing plumbing issues across campus are being identified.

  • All perishable food in cottages and the food storage building were lost.

  • Repairs to the campus power system will be among the most costly.

“I am humbled at the ways friends help during times of crisis,” Blackwell says. “I ask for their faithful support once again.”

You can help immediately by giving to BCH's Hurricane Relief Fund. Visit and choose "Hurricane Relief" to make a donation.

For more information about giving to help, contact Brenda Gray at 336-689-4442 or

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