Lumberton residents return home nine months after Matthew flooding
Posted July 14
Lumberton, N.C. — Eighteen families expect to return home in Lumberton next week after an extended and unwanted stay in area motels.
Flooding from Hurricane Matthew last October damaged 81 units in the First Baptist Homes Apartment complex, off Marion Road.
Since then, many residents have been living out of suitcases and boxes in motels along Interstate 95, some with several families members packed into a single room.
"I didn't know it was so rough without an apartment," 81-year-old Henry Cutler said. "I know what the homeless go through with now. No wonder I worked so hard to stay in an apartment, to stay in a house."
Crews started repairing the First Baptist Homes complex in April, redoing floors and remodeling kitchens and bathrooms. Volunteers expect to have furniture moved in by the end of next week.
"Sometimes I get emotional and I can break down because I see how much love and support that people are pouring out on us," Lola Smith said. "We thank everybody for everything they did for us because, without them, where would we be? Homeless with no place to go."
The other 63 apartments in the complex are expected to be ready for occupancy sometime in September.
In the aftermath of the hurricane, an estimated 650 families from Lumberton were housed in area motels.