Historic Blockade Runner hotel reopens in Wilmington after Hurricane Florence

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Thursday, February 14, 2019
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After suffering severe damage from Hurricane Florence, the Blockade Runner will reopen Valentine's Weekend.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- After suffering severe damage from Hurricane Florence, the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, a historic Wrightsville Beach landmark and oceanfront icon of North Carolina for 55 years, will reopen Valentine's Weekend.

Blockade Runner closed in September after Hurricane Florence made landfall.

"The total amount of damage is around $10 million," explained Nicolas Montoya, Blockade Runner General Manager.

The Baggett family has owned the hotel since 1971 and has seen their fair share of hurricanes.

"In my time nine. Nine where we've been affected," explained Co-Owner Mary Baggett-Martin. Baggett-Martin said the roof of their hotel came off and the persistent rain flooded the entire structure for days which forced the business to close.

"We had to replace three out of four walls in a guest room," Baggett-Martin said. "We were 166 employees so a lot of displacement of people I have relationships with. They're employees-they're the reason we exist-they're my team. There were only 35 of us left," she added.

Since the shutdown, the staff and contractors worked around the clock with the goal of reopening in time for Valentines weekend. The hotel made its goal and will have 80 out of 150 rooms open, but, the staff knows there is still a long road to recovery.

"We are totally sold out," Baggett-Martin said. "We're back. We're going to be better than ever, but, I feel so horrible that there are so many people still sleeping in tents or campers in their yard in this area."

The Blockade Runner will reopen in three phases throughout the spring.

North Carolina insurance officials estimate damage totals hit $17 billion from Hurricane Florence.