Hurricanes

NC campground welcomes Irma evacuees

Posted September 9

— As thousands of Floridians head north to flee Hurricane Irma, a campground on Kerr Lake is rolling out the welcome mat.

"I've heard people crying because they're scared and have no place to go," said Vicki Whalen.

So she had an idea: Open the campground she founded with husband Rollie Whalen to those seeking shelter.

Camp Kerr Lake, owned by Shiloh Family Ministries, is providing a free place to stay, complete with daily meals. Saturday's lunch was enchiladas and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches served beside still waters.

The lakeside serenity was a balm for Lavette Sanders and her three kids. They traveled 18 hours from Sarasota, Fla., to escape the hurricane's threat.

"I decided to leave home and everything I have behind, material-wise, an took what was most important – my kids and a few essentials," she said. They drove through the night, worried as they went for those who made a different decision.

"The entire feel of this place is just amazing," Sanders said. "It's very peaceful. It's going to help me not be stressed while iIm waiting out to see what happening at home."

When the Whalen's realized the need, Vicki got on Facebook, where her invitation got over 12,000 shares.

And the calls keep coming, from as far south as the Florida Keys, those who needed shelter and those who wanted to serve.

"I've had four interpreters call, saying they want to offer their services," she said. "We've had churches bring food."

Camp Kerr Lake has a couple of lodges that will sleep 20, Vicki Whalen said.

"It's just a wonderful blessing to be able to just open your hands and say, 'Here's what we have that is available,'" Rollie Whalen said.

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