God Help Us: Lumberton Flood Victims Separated From Family After Hurricane

Lumberton Flooding

UPDATE: Myrtle Bethea's brother, Ralph Townsend was found alive and safe Wednesday morning, according to friends and family.

 

FAYETTEVILLE, NC  -  "We need help. We need help. This is too much.”

Elizabeth Morales cried, standing in front of a hotel room in pink slippers, a blue jean jacket and pants.

“We have nothing. I have this. I have the clothes on my back."

Morales said she’s now living in hell. On Friday, when floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew started to rise, people in Lumberton were unaware and unprepared.

She said she and her son narrowly escaped, "(But by the) Grace of God. We didn't see evacuations. We didn't hear any of that. Everybody kept telling us it was going to be 30 mile an hour wind, we might get a gust, we might see a little bit of potential flooding but nothing heavy."

Morales and her son found themselves 45 minutes away from home in Fayetteville; a city just beginning to recover after dealing with floods of their own.

"Took me three almost 4 hours to get here and then we rode around begging for a room,” she said.

Finding a room, only a small part of her problems.

"I'm stuck up here right now. Can't get my son with asthma to a doctor. Can't get my own medicine. I have no home. I've lost everything I've got,” Morales paused as tears streamed down her face. “We have animals that are missing and gone. Families been separated. I haven't seen my daughter!"

Morales's got separated from her mother and daughter as they tried to escape. All she knows is her daughter is in a shelter and is safe.

As for other friends and family, Morales keeps a close eye on social media; scrolling and hoping to see the words “I'm safe,” on loved one's status updates.

For as long as possible Morales will stay in the only hotel room she could find, until money runs out. She said she’s lucky enough to be with some familiar faces; neighbors from her flooded hometown, like Mrytle Bethea,

Wearing a bright red shirt and a look of hopefulness of her face, Bethea walked up to WFMY News 2’s cameras and stood next to Morales.

“I have a brother that's missing,” Bethea all but whispered to the camera.  “I have more family members that are missing. Hopefully, they are in shelters. Hopefully, they are going to trying to get up numbers that we can call and maybe check on them."

Bethea explained her brother, Ralph, is older and decided to stay in Lumberton, despite the rising floodwaters.

"He was stubborn and he wouldn't leave out,” Bethea admitted. “He said he thought he could wait it out. They said the National Guard came in and made everyone evacuate. I'm just praying and hoping they got to him in time."

Governor Pat McCrory said over 1,500 people were stranded. Bethea managed to get out and helped others leave as well.

"I took a neighbor with me. They didn't have anywhere to go. I told her I was not going to leave her behind. If I could have taken everyone I could have I would have took them all,” said Bethea. “But, I just couldn't save but who I could have saved.”

Bethea choked back tears and said “Get them help,” before walking back into her hotel room.

Close to 1,000 people are in shelters and during the interview Bethea discovered her brother isn't one of them.

Opening the door and slowly walking back towards the camera, Bethea said, "My brother is in none of the shelters.”

Morales wrapped her arms around Bethea and whispered prayers to her.

Bethea repeated, “He ain't in none of the shelters. I don't know, he ain't in none of the shelters.”

After a few moments, Bethea sniffled and wiped her tears and forcefully stated, “We just have to wait out the storm y'all. Hopefully, I'm praying that he stayed in the house and maybe the water didn't come that high. I'm just praying that.”

Once more, the small woman walked back into her hotel room.

The National Guard continued to perform rescues in Lumberton 5 days after flooding began. Morales hopes more help will come long after the water leaves her home town.

"We still here,” Morales hopefully said. “Long as I'm here, that another day to fight."

Copyright 2016 WFMY


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