New Bern, N.C., Corps fights the good fight to return to facility

By: Brad Rowland

When Hurricane Florence made landfall in mid-September, it was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the Carolinas. Thousands of people were displaced and billions of dollars of property damage ensued. The Salvation Army responded with widespread deployment in the area of emergency disaster service.

That work continued for weeks and months but, in New Bern, North Carolina, the Army’s work was directly affected by storm damage to its facilities. The corps building was flooded more than four feet deep, essentially wiping out the entirety of its interior. The Family Store adjacent to the property also sustained considerable flooding damage. In a different part of the city, roof damage occurred to another Family Store – and, thus, multiple plates were spinning for Captain Curtis Kratz, corps officer, and those tasked with continuing the work in the region.

Because of the damage to the corps building, regular church activities were forced to relocate while the facility could be reassessed, leaving Captain Kratz and his staff searching for options. Fortunately, through an advisory board connection, a temporary worship location was donated by Thomas Development, Inc. (TDI) in the form of a storefront. Though the original plan was to house the corps in that location for three months, construction delays resulted in another three months of waiting. Still, the facility proved to be more than adequate, with youth programming continuing in the space and Sunday morning worship convening each week.

Elsewhere, The Salvation Army’s administrative offices avoided substantial storm damage, which proved pivotal in continuing social service delivery. The building also housed youth Sunday school activities, with children gathering at the temporary corps location and busing to the administrative building, only to be brought back for traditional worship.

“In other appointments, the corps building and the social services were under the same roof and, in New Bern, that isn’t the case,” said Captain Kratz. “Originally, I didn’t like that but, after the hurricane, I was praising God and overwhelmingly thankful that it wasn’t set up that way here.”

By early April, the corps family was able to move back into its newly renovated facility. A full dedication and anointing of the structure is planned for the future when furniture and accommodations are fully installed. In the meantime, however, The Salvation Army continues to provide a spiritual home for many and serve the community, despite the challenges posed by Hurricane Florence’s devastation.

“There was some frustration because, when we wanted to be serving people and doing what we’re called to do, we were dealing with the issues from being displaced,” Captain Kratz said. “But we’re still here, back up and running, and ready to serve in the best way possible with a new normal.”