This story is part of an ongoing anniversary series on Hurricane Florence, which struck in September 2018, and the storm’s lingering effects on Carteret County and its residents.

CARTERET COUNTY — One year after Hurricane Florence caused the centers to close their doors, the two Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plain units had an official ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, welcoming the community back.

Hurricane Florence hit the area in September 2018, and the Beaufort teen unit and the Sunshine Lady Club in Morehead City sustained significant damage.

While the sites were closed, the Beaufort teen unit met at the Old Beaufort Elementary School cafeteria, while the Sunshine Lady Club met at Morehead City Primary School and sometimes the Morehead City/Beaufort Elks Lodge.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Beaufort teen unit Saturday, Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plain President and CEO Kimberly Boyd said the anniversary of Hurricane Florence was the perfect opportunity to welcome the community back to the sites.

She talked of the damage that Hurricane Florence left behind, as well as the support of a community that rallied behind the Boys & Girls Club in the aftermath of the storm.

“We were very blessed to have the community step forward so we could open June 13, nine full months after the storm,” she said.

Ms. Boyd thanked specific members of the community who got the clubs back on their feet.

“The town of Beaufort can not be any prouder of the Boys & Girls Club,” Beaufort Commissioner Sharon Harker said. “Great futures start here and this is the youth that’s going to be continuing on, and we are glad to have a place for them to continue to grow, to learn and to be mentors for others. Because many of the Boys & Girls Club members who were here in the past have come back and continued on with that process and they continue to instill pride in them, and that’s what we need in our future.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests learned about the damage the storm caused, as well as got a first-hand look at the renovations to the club.

At the Beaufort teen center, three windows blew out, causing the roof to leak. Through the duration of the storm, water soaked everything in the building, causing mold to grow.

The game tables and furniture had to be thrown away and the kitchen had to be redone. The center’s technology was covered, so it was spared from damage.

A few club members were on site Saturday showing off new portions of the club. In the gym, members could play games like dodgeball, basketball and soccer.

Janara Bryant and Jasmine Ahmed, members of the Beaufort teen unit, said they enjoy the new space.

“I like it. There’s better equipment,” Jasmine said.

Janara agreed.

“I think it’s more open,” she said. “It’s not all about a nice room, but when you see a nice room, people want to come more.”

Over at the Sunshine Lady Club, members of the community gathered for a ribbon cutting and a small presentation, followed by a day of fun with food and bounce houses.

The Morehead City location was hit harder than the Beaufort teen center during the storm.

A corner of the roof in the gym lifted during the storm, which caused a portion of the wall to collapse and parts of the floor to dip. The interior of the building was covered in mold. The mold grew over the kitchen and the eating area.

Everything had to be replaced as it was considered a safety hazard.

The new renovations include all new game tables and technology. The education room now has white-top tables where club members  do homework.

“We still have some work to do, but we are getting there,” Ms. Boyd said.

Sedricka Courman, the Sunshine Lady Club director, said she was thrilled to be back in the building.

“It’s heaven on Earth,” she said. “The parents are happy. The kids are happy … we are just grateful.”

Officials said the clubs sustained no damage from Hurricane Dorian, which hit the area earlier this month.

Contact Megan Soult at 252-726-7081, ext. 228; email megan.soult@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @meganCCNT.

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