Kinston hotels rebuild after Matthew’s devastation

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – The sign on the door reads closed, with caution tape around the entrance at the Hampton Inn off U.S. 70 in Kinston.

Two weeks ago, the hotel was surrounded by water. Manager Travis Baker said when he returned last week he found himself “walking into a flooded hotel and seeing everything you worked hard for and see it destroyed.”

Baker is not alone. Only one hotel remains open in Kinston as others, like the Hampton Inn, clean up.

Baker is working on a game plan for how to clean out twenty hotel rooms, a conference room and a lobby. He said it’s going to take months just to get guests back through the doors.

The high-occupancy hotel is used by many companies in Lenoir County like North State Aviation and Sanderson Farms.

“They are going other places that they can find,” said Mark Pope, Lenoir County Economic Development director. “They are going to Goldsboro, Greenville or New Bern; wherever they can find hotels. So that is costing the owners plus the community, and it’s a big loss for us.”

Pope said having only one hotel open in the county is hurting everyone. Every time you stay at a hotel you pay a sales tax that helps the tourism development authority, said Pope.

Since the hotels are closed, that money stopped rolling in.

As for the Hampton Inn, Baker said crews have to install new wiring for electricity, new carpet and get all new furniture before re-opening.

Wedding receptions were planned at the hotel in the next few weeks, but those had to be moved to other locations in Kinston.

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