Flooding imperils UU conference center in North Carolina

Flooding imperils UU conference center in North Carolina

Most congregational properties escaped major damage from Hurricane Florence, but many homes are flooded.

Elaine McArdle


A building at Shelter Neck Unitarian Universalist Camp surrounded by several feet of water, flooded after hurricane Florence

Shelter Neck Unitarian Universalist Camp in Burgaw, North Carolina, is the UU property that experienced the most damage from flooding after Hurricane Florence. (© Rhonda Potter)

© Rhonda Potter

Shelter Neck Unitarian Universalist Camp in Burgaw, North Carolina, suffered extensive flooding from Hurricane Florence, but most UU congregations in the area appear to have escaped serious property damage from the hurricane, which claimed at least forty-four lives in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia in mid-September.

However, flooding resulting from the hurricane continues to wreak havoc, and many area UU congregations are working to assist people and communities affected by Florence and its aftermath, including partnering with groups that focus on marginalized communities in the region.

“Things are really bad” at Shelter Neck, according to a September 20 Facebook post by Marion Presler Hirsch, a member of the board, who posted a photo showing a building surrounded by several feet of water. They are planning for work days in October once it is safe to get inside the building and begin repairs, and they are also doing fundraising.

The UUA encourages donations to its Disaster Relief Fund, which provides immediate aid to congregations affected by Hurricane Florence and other disasters. Congregations can apply for aid at uua.org/finance/grants. In addition, the UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina has created a resource page for people willing to donate money, supplies, or time, and for those seeking help.

The building of the UU Fellowship in New Bern, North Carolina, sustained minor wind damage, said member Linda Belliard. As of September 24 at least ten members of the fellowship couldn’t return to their homes due to flooding.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, the Unitarian Coastal Fellowship in Morehead City had “very minor damage” to its building, the Rev. Sally White posted on the UUJMNC web page. The UU Congregation of Wilmington sustained no damage to its building, but there were a number of downed trees on the grounds, said the Rev. Cheryl M. Walker. There was no or very little damage to the buildings of the Greenville UU Fellowship in Greenville, Red Hill Universalist Church in Clinton, and Outlaw’s Bridge Universalist Church in Seven Springs, according to UUJMNC.

The Unitarian Church in Charleston, South Carolina, had no damage, according to executive director Sandra Selvitelli. She added that she has not heard of any UU congregations in South Carolina that suffered damage.