The Boys & Girls Club of Johnston County turned 10 years old this month. But Hurricane Matthew dampened the party when he poured nearly two feet of water into the clubhouse in Selma.
Since its founding a decade ago, the club has served more than 1,000 young people ages 6-18, most of them from low-income households headed by a single parent. Today, the club has 230 members. They come mostly for help with their school work but also enjoy games and snacks.
“We’ve done good work,” Mamie Moore, the club’s first and only director, said last week as she carried a box of dry supplies to a table in the club building.
Hurricane Matthew largely spared Selma, which kept its water and power on throughout the storm and its aftermath. An exception was the Boys & Girls Club, where water marks on walls, doors and furniture showed how high water had climbed into the building. Stains on the ceiling revealed where water had poured in from above.
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“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Moore said.
More than a week after the storm, board games rested precariously on pool tables that had crashed to the floor at odd angles. Books filled old grocery carts, tarps covered computers, and every elevated surface held what the club hoped to salvage.
Last Tuesday, volunteers, including teachers from Selma Elementary School, worked to separate the waterlogged from the dry supplies and furniture. They packed box after box while Moore evaluated what should stay and what needed to go the already full dumpster out front.
“We lost so much; it touched every room,” Moore said. “But none of our babies were hurt.”
Moore got to the clubhouse two days after Matthew. When she saw the damage, she called around to make sure the club’s members were OK.
“Some of them had damage to their homes, but they’re all OK,” she said, smiling. “That’s what’s important. We’re so thankful.”
But Moore did mourn the loss of things that had made the club comfortable and fun, like the foosball and pool tables. “We’ll really want to see if we can fix or replace those,” she said.
Jodie Stallings was among the more than 50 Selma Elementary teachers who volunteered in shifts at the clubhouse on Tuesday. “It’s awful to see it like this,” said Stallings, who teaches third grade.
Moore said she doesn’t yet know the extent of the damage to the building. “We’ve got to get it all cleaned up in here, and then we’ll see about repairs,” she said.
Cleanup was well underway on Tuesday, with newly laid carpet in the club’s “Internet Cafe” having been ripped up and tossed out along with damaged furniture and supplies.
“We’re going to need donations – funds to help with repairs and supplies to replace what we lost,” Moore said. “We’ll definitely need cleaning supplies.”
Moore hoped the club’s insurance would cover some of the losses, and she documented damages by taking photos of items to be discarded.
“It may help a little,” Moore said of insurance, “but we’re going to need the community’s help.”
“We just want to make it safe so our babies can come back,” she said. “They want to help too, but it has to be safe for them first.”
That’s how Moore thinks of young people in the club, even after they’ve aged out. They’re her babies, and memories of them were everywhere among the items she had to part with because of Matthew: names and dates scrawled on the backs of bookcases, painted hand prints on furniture, artwork and photos that once hung on walls.
“I’ve thrown away a lot of memories,” Moore said, holding up a moisture-wrinkled photo of smiling students. “But we’ll make more.”
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett
Want to help?
To make a donation, go to www.bgcjohnstoncounty.com or call 919-965-5240. Here’s what the club needs:
Cleaning supplies: mops, rolling mop buckets, a vacuum cleaner, brooms, a push broom, rags, a garden hose, Lysol spray, Lysol liquid, paper towels, liquid soap, cleaning wipes, garbage bags, surgical masks, gloves.
Office supplies: staplers and staples, tape dispensers, clear tape and masking tape, pencils and pens, a printer and ink, laptop computers, a paper cutter, scissors.
Game room: flash cards, card games, board games, foosball table, table tennis table, benches, bookcases.
Furniture: stackable chairs, folding tables, entry rugs, shelves, black trash cans, trash bags.
School supplies: backpacks with school supplies, markers in all sizes, pencils, pencil boxes, glue, rulers, yardsticks, three-ring binders, composition notebooks.
Other: microwave oeven, toaster oven, serving bowls, paper cups and plates, serving flatware.