Midstate campground prepared to take Florence evacuees


When Donald Lemaster heard about Tents for Troops, he said it was a no-brainer to get involved. 

“It was a perfect marriage between our family business of over 30 years now and something we’re very passionate about,” said Lemaster. 

Tents for Troops is a nonprofit that allows active-duty military service families to stay free at least two nights at 300 campgrounds nationwide.

Loose Caboose in Lancaster is participating and has two large families from Virginia Beach. 

A veteran himself, Lemaster said the two-day minimum wasn’t enough for campers fleeing Florence. 

“We’ll be comping their entire stay beyond the two days,” said Lemaster. 

“They made accommodations above and beyond, knowing that we needed this. This was an emergency,” said Rebekah Martinez and Sarah Lathan, displaced from Virginia Beach.

Three more families are expected to take refuge at Loose Caboose. 

“Others that said they would otherwise need to take out emergency loans just to be able to make, you know, afford the fuel and the unexpected expenses that would come out of pocket,” said Lemaster. 

“We were looking at a Walmart parking lot and boondocking or dry camping, which is basically living there with nothing, just a roof over our heads,” said Martinez and Lathan. 

Finding refuge is a priority because wind and rain aren’t the only things coming. 

“I was due four days ago, so I’m 40 plus four,” said Lathan. 

Sarah is likely to have her fourth child at the campground, which would also be a first for Loose Caboose. 

“We’ve been in touch with a local midwife in this area who has been willing to help us out, knowing absolutely nothing about me,” said Lathan. 

Tents for Troops is a godsend for mom, and both families say more active-duty military should take advantage. 

“It’s there for us to be able to use. Don’t feel ashamed to be able to use it. I mean, that is how these campgrounds are giving back,” said Martinez and Lathan. 

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