Fire Damages Children’s Advocacy Center in Niceville

A low hum consistently cuts through the halls and rooms of the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center or ECCAC. It’s the bright green Servpro dehumidifiers. 20 or so sit in the building. 

 

The air conditioning is out, but a small crew pecks away at their laptops in the back of the building. They continue the mission of the Niceville center like Saturday’s fire, caused by a broken sprinkler, never happened. 

 

Many operations have moved to the sister center in DeFuniak Springs. There has been no interruption in service for the child clients; the ECCAC helps them survive the most traumatic events of their lives. 

The walls bear the marks the builders left almost a quarter of a century ago, and they also now carry evidence of fire and flood damage. Restoration experts have begun the labor-intensive process of ripping out the various building materials ruined by the event. “We were in the process of adding on to the building and renovating. We had a different timeline, but God moved that up,” said ECCAC CEO Julie Porterfield. She’s spent the majority of her working life in the building helping young children who’ve been abused or mistreated. 

 

Porterfield says the quick response from Niceville Fire Department means all of the important legal documents were saved. But – as she walks the hallways of the building, its evident – there is plenty to rebuild. 

 

“I have great faith,” Porterfield said, “And I have watched God provide both personally and for the center and – you can sit and wallow in it, or you can just be hopefully and especially as a leader I really feel like I set the tone and I have a lot of responsibility for the people and the staff and the kids that we see.“

 

Local organizations have made it a point to help. The ECCAC has set up a funding account for people who want to help out. Crosspoint Church has offered up their facilities for victims to meet with counselors for therapy. The City of Niceville has offered up some of their facilities for meeting space. 

 

While the insurance adjuster hasn’t even come through to see what the damage is, or how long it’s going to take to rebuild – the ECCAC remain hopeful. They believe they will be able to return to normal operations in the building by the end of 2022. 

 

If you want to help the ECCAC through this time, you can donate by clicking the button below. 

 

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