Neuseway Nature Center opens its doors for the first time since Hurricane Florence

Neuseway Nature Center opens its doors for the first time since Hurricane Florence

After more than five months of repairs and preparation, the Neuseway Nature Center opened its doors Tuesday for the first time since Hurricane Florence. Photo by Junious Smith III

The Neuseway Nature Center is back in operation.

When Hurricane Florence hit Kinston in mid-September, the Neuseway Nature Center was underwater due to the flooding of the Neuse River. As the waters receded, the Ellis Planetarium was operational in October, but it took more time for the Nature Center to reopen for the general public.

After more than five months of repairs and preparation, the Center opened Tuesday for the public with no remnants of the storm present. Bobby Cox, the recreation center supervisor, said it felt great to have the place operational again.

“Any time you can open back up, it feels like an accomplishment,” Cox said. “This was a little easier to handle than (Hurricanes) Matthew and Floyd. During Hurricane Matthew (in 2016) we had about five feet of water inside compared to one-and-a-half feet (for Florence). It took us about six months to open back up during Floyd and about a year after Matthew. We were ready about seven or eight months after Hurricane Matthew, but we had another flood.

Cox said the building would’ve been open even sooner, but more work needed to be done in the downstairs portion.

“We had to do some rewiring downstairs, and we should never have to do it again,” Cox said. “Allco Electric of La Grange did a tremendous job for us.”

Grifton resident Kara Barnes was among the first to see the Nature Center since it reopened and said she had enjoyed it over the past four years.

“I’ve definitely missed it,” Barnes said. “I’m glad to see that it’s running again and the kids have always enjoyed it.”

Tyler Little, who lives in Ayden, said it was a good experience for his first trip to the Center.

“I like how it’s set up,” Little said. “It’s great how you can see some of the animals (on display) that you would see in the wild.”

Cox said additional renovations could come in the future.

“We’re still working on a few things, but we can have the place open while we put it all together,” Cox said.

The Neuseway Nature Center is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.

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