A Look At Lumberton: Nearly A Year After Hurricane Matthew

Recovery Continues In Lumberton After Hurricane Matthew

LUMBERTON, N.C. -- Nearly a year after Hurricane Matthew tore through eastern North Carolina, folks in Lumberton are more hopeful.

 
We first met Brewington last October, right after her home was flooded.  She told us she was grateful her family was safe and she still had a job she could go to. She still considers herself lucky.
 
"Everything is fine, we still haven't fully recovered." 
 
She's still hard at work at her store, but also in life; trying to put normal back together, knowing it's never really going to be the same.
 
"It was a nightmare," says Ronnie Strickland.
 
He and his wife Sharon don't even like to get out of their truck in their old neighborhood in West Lumberton.  Their house was claimed by Mother Nature. 
 
"It's just sitting there, but it destroyed it," Ronnie explains. "They say we couldn't rebuild it because it's too bad 31:57 it was white on the inside, now it's black from mold."
 
A plight hundreds of other families face. Some are starting the rebuilding process, with help from grants.  Most of the 600 families in Robeson county are out of hotels and motels.  Some were able to go back home while others are still with family and friends.
 
Kids can't even go back to West Lumberton Elementary this fall and it's not clear if they ever will.
 
"We're just living day by day," Ronnie tells.
 
But each day here is another day they've survived.  A lot of Lumberton is back to hustling and bustling.  Some spots a true testament to regrowth.
 
"We had four feet of water here," says Pastor Rick Foreman.  "The church was nearly destroyed."
 
He's talking about West Lumberton Baptist Church, home to about 150 worshippers.
 
Last month, West Lumberton Baptist Church reopened, sooner than many people expected.
 
There's a stone at the front of the church, remembering those who were lost and affected by Hurricane Matthew, including one of the church's own.  Charles Ivy drowned in the flood while he was trying to evacuate his family from their home, right across from the church.  The new playground at the church is now named in his memory.
 
Pastor Rick says the tragedy has been overwhelming, but spiritually
 
"The church family has really rallied together," he says.
 
Pastor Foreman calls says it was a community effort to get the church rebuilt so quickly; a tremendous blessing, that comes with eternal empathy.
 
"Seeing images from Harvey, our heart does go out to them," he says, adding they were in the same spot last October.
 
We asked everyone we talked to in Lumberton to share any advice with those now stricken by gut-wrenching devastation in Teaxs.  They all gave close to the same answers.
 
"Just continue to pray," Brewington shares. "When you lose everything, what else do you have but prayer?"
 
City Manager Wayne Horne says some houses have just been approved grant money to start renovations.  There are still others on a waiting list.  
 
He also adds FEMA will be helping to prevent some of the catastrophe that came with the floodwaters last fall.  For example, he says they're changing the infrastructure around the water treatment facility, so it doesn't flood, putting the city's water supply in jeopardy.  
 

© 2017 WFMY-TV


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