Henderson couple open campground for Irma evacuees — for free

HENDERSON, N.C. (WNCN) — Rollie and Vicki Whalen are no strangers to hurricanes, the couple hails from Florida.

They now run Shiloah Family Ministries at Camp Kerr Lake in Henderson. When they heard about Hurricane Irma, they wanted to do something to help.

The Whalen’s opened up their campground to families evacuating from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. They’re offering them a place to stay, hot meals, and Southern hospitality — all on the house.

“(We are) blessed that we can just open our hands and share the resources that we have with those that are in need,” said Rollie Whalen, Director of Shiloah Family Ministries at Camp Kerr Lake.

Lavette Sanders, her three kids, and dog live in Sarasota, Florida. Sanders knew she needed to get out, but also knew she couldn’t afford a hotel.

“I saw a screenshot within the comment field about Camp Kerr Lake and the beautiful couple that was opening up their camp for free to evacuees,” said Sanders.

She says she called, thinking there would probably not be enough room, but the Whalen’s welcomed her and several others with open arms.

Sanders worries because she doesn’t know what she’ll have to come home to in Sarasota.

“It’s like all the what-ifs but the most important thing is that for the time being,” Sanders said. “I’m here. I’m here with my kids and we’re safe. We worry about tomorrow, but at least in the now there’s some reassurance that everything is gonna be okay with us.”

Local church groups and others in the community are helping out too, donating hot meals, snacks, and toiletries.

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