MOREHEAD CITY — The Salvation Army thrift store at 1700 Arendell St. reopened its doors Monday after being closed nearly seven months for repairs following major damage from Hurricane Florence.

“It’s been a long road back, but this helps bring a sense of normalcy,” Salvation Army Advisory Board Chairman Warren Benton said. “I think a lot of people are wanting to get back to a normal flow of life and hopefully this provides some hope.”

Another important impact of the thrift store reopening is the return to raising funds through the sale of items for programs that assist those in need, according to Mr. Benton. Proceeds from the thrift store are used to help residents with housing, utility bills and other needs.

“The store is our biggest revenue generator, so getting this store opened is huge for us,” Mr. Benton said. “Thankfully, we received some very large grants and donations that bridged the time the store was closed.”

Since Hurricane Florence, Mr. Benton said The Salvation Army in Morehead City has paid out more than $260,000 to assist families displaced by the storm, more than $50,000 to help people with utility bills and $22,000 to purchase appliances for people who lost them to the heavy rains, floods and high winds the storm caused Sept. 13-14, 2018.

While the thrift store has reopened in its former location, Maj. Dewey Alderson said the social services office and worship center will remain at 810 Arendell St., where the organization has been since having to vacate the site at 1700 Arendell St.

Maj. Alderson said all of the services will once again be located together in the same facility once the new Salvation Army worship and service center, currently under construction at Church and Bridges streets, opens. The $3.2 million building is expected to open by early fall.

As for the thrift store, people were lined up before the doors opened Monday morning to see the renovated facility, which was filled with clothing, furniture and other items.

Store manager Kay Hines said the refurbished store has new ceiling tiles, lighting, carpeting, doors and freshly painted walls.

“It’s wonderful to be back in our building,” Ms. Hines said. “We are so happy. It was tough after the storm because we lost all of the contents.”

Insurance covered the repairs and lost items, according to Ms. Hines, who didn’t have a cost estimate.

“We rent the building so the landlord handled all of that,” she said.

Ms. Hines said she started accepting donations about three weeks prior to opening day to restock the store. Prior to that the organization had to refer potential donors to other county thrift stores.

“We didn’t have anywhere to store items,” she said.

Those shopping Monday said they were excited to see the thrift store back open.

“I used to own a consignment shop and I love the high-end merchandise you can find at this store,” Mary Garvey of Morehead City said as she purchased a large amount of towels and clothing. “I was really excited to see them finally open.”

Workers were also excited to be back at cash registers and sorting donated items in the back of the store. Most were able to receive disaster unemployment while the store was closed. Some opted to find other employment during that time.

Employee Jessica Schoonover said, “I was so happy to get back. I’ve worked here four years and before I was laid off The Salvation Army was like my family. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”

Employee Reba Radford agreed.

“It feels wonderful to be back,” she said as she sorted donated clothes. “It’s such a joy to work here. I believe in The Salvation Army and all that they do to help people.”

Store hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Those wanting to donate items can go to the back drop-off area on Bridges Street. For more information, call the thrift store at 252-726-2100.

Those needing other assistance through the social services program can call 252-726-7147.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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