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Woman who comforts NC troops now needs comforting herself

Posted September 29, 2011
Updated September 30, 2011

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— A Pitt County woman who has brought comfort to countless troops by sending care packages overseas has found herself in need of some comfort as well. Local military families are returning the favor and helping the woman who is known as a pillar of the state’s military community.

Barbara Whitehead is the volunteer director of Give 2 the Troops in Greenville, which sends the care packages to service members at war. After Hurricane Irene struck North Carolina in late August, water flooded Whitehead’s house in the Pitt County town of Ayden and ripped open her roof.

“The rain poured in and poured in and poured in for 10 hours,” she said.

An outpouring of love followed the damage, as soldiers from Fort Bragg showed up at her doorstep ready to work.

'Military mom' washed out by Irene 'Military mom' washed out by Irene

“The Army family sticks together,” Whitehead said. “They’re defending the country. They’re laying down their lives for me, to protect us against the bad guys overseas, and they’re still coming home and giving back. It’s pretty humbling.”

Cleaning up from the flood has not been so easy. Whitehead’s house was built in 1926 and has lead paint on the walls and asbestos in the plaster. For decades, both have been outlawed in new buildings, and they now have to be replaced.

Whitehead estimates she and her husband, who are living in a hotel, will have to pay $20,000 to $25,000, or more, to make all the repairs. Whitehead’s second home, a warehouse in Greenville that holds the items to be donated to troops, has also been threatened.

The business that allows Whitehead to use its warehouse needs the space back by Jan. 1. She could move somewhere else, but that means she’ll probably have to pay.

“If I pay rent, that means that many care packages don’t get mailed,” she said.

As for her own house, Whitehead says she is applying for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help remove the hazardous materials from her home. So far, she has not been given approval.

9 Comments

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  • just my2cents Sep 30, 10:16 a.m.

    dsalter, I wouldn't say PEOPLE cared less about the troops. That's a generalization. every since I was a child, we have packed care packages, donated to USOs, DAV and other military org. Maybe the awareness levels have changed and more people are involved, but SOME people have always cared. My dad was in Vietnam, and was spit on, cursed at and worse, however, he does not think that is the right attitude to have. And homeowners does not cover everything. My neighbor is one who just found out how much it doesn't cover. Until you are in this situation, you may never know. I pray for those struggling.

  • Barbwh Sep 30, 10:16 a.m.

    That should read " and FEMA nor homeowners did NOT cover the cost of testing or demolition." Sorry for the confusion.

  • Barbwh Sep 30, 10:03 a.m.

    We do have homeowners insurance which will cover the cost of the repairs directly related to the storm, but not the removal of hazardous materials. That is an exclusion that is approved by the NC Insurance Commissioner for all homeowners policies in NC. Another volunteer at G2tts lost her mobile home from a tree falling on it, and even though it was built in 1999, she was required to have it tested for hazardous materials before demolition and FEMA nor homeowners cover the testing or demolition. And to dsalter, I was not packing care packages when you served in Santo Domingo but apologize that no one sent packages to you. I do appreciate your service to our country's missions and pray that you are well.

  • dsalter Sep 30, 9:20 a.m.

    I was in during an era when people couldn't have cared less about the troops. In Santo Domingo we never received anything other than a couple of cartons of cigarettes from the Red Cross. But, I'm not crying on your shoulder. I think it's great that someone takes the time and initiative to send packages to our people. As a nineteen year old kid away from home for the very first time, mail call was the best time of day. It was depressing to receive nothing, even though my folks did write. Let's not forget those who serve and those serving those who serve.

  • just my2cents Sep 30, 8:48 a.m.

    My heart goes out to her. Thank you Mrs. Barbara for all that you have done for out heroes. I pray the CopyPro will help find you another place for the Warehouse and will help with the expenses. They have donated that space for a while and are great people. I know they need the space for expanding business, but hopefully it is on their heart to help you. Praying for God to handle this situation and give us faith to know He knows how!

  • cybergump Sep 30, 8:37 a.m.

    Extreme Home Makeover folks need to take a look at this. Ideal situation for their show......

  • BubbaDuke Sep 30, 8:22 a.m.

    A wonderful woman. I'm proud of our troops for stepping up and helping her.

  • Vstarbikegirl Sep 30, 8:18 a.m.

    If Mrs. Whitehead has Homeowners Insurance, the repairs should be covered. The article didn't state if she was insured or not.

  • ak30905 Sep 29, 7:33 p.m.

    I personally met Barbara a couple years ago when we went to Give to the Troops to volunteer. I cannot explain how wonderful this woman is! She loves to give back to the troops, and does it with a passion that I haven't seen in volunteer work in a very long time! It's so sad to hear about the trouble she is having with her house and the building-She is such a deserving person that gives so much of herself to others. I will be praying for a solution to the problems with her house and Give to the Troops!