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Hurricane Irene-damaged summer camp to rebuild

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A children's summer camp is rebuilding, more than two years after being crippled by Hurricane Irene.

Camp Vandemere in Pamlico County will break ground on three new buildings in the next few weeks. The storm damaged their only dormitory and kitchen.

"It looked like a bomb had been dropped in the middle of it. That's just about what it looked like to me," said Camp Vandemere executive director Rick Price.

When the Christian children's camp re-opened last summer, kids had to live in trailers, and eat food from a mobile kitchen. Now the pressure is on for the camp to get back on its feet.

"The Health department and county inspections department basically have told us that we have to have the new buildings in next year to operate," said Price.

Price says the camp is planning to break ground soon on a two new dorms and a kitchen in October or November.

The new buildings will be larger and more hurricane proof than the ones Irene destroyed. The trailers can only hold 80 kids, but the new dorms can house 140 kids. Some people in the small town of Vandemere are worried about that.

"That's going to be a tremendous burden on this town" given the potential influx of extra children during the summer months, said Carla Byrnes, who says she is head of the town's planning board. "Being a religious camp, they pay no taxes. Yet we'd have to use our Powell Bill funds to take care of the roads," said Byrnes.

The town zoning board approved the camp's construction plans last month, so Byrnes says there's no turning back.

Many are supportive of the camp.

"It's an awesome place for kids, you bond, you form Christian relationships. That's important that Christians have a place to bond," said Anna Simeon, Vandemere resident.

The camp is planning several fundraisers to cover some of the $700,000 cost of rebuilding. Camp Vandemere is expected to have all three buildings constructed by June 2014.

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