Local News

Meetings aim to help Hurricane Matthew victims still struggling

Posted November 15, 2016

— More than a month after Hurricane Matthew left behind a trail of destruction across dozens of counties, hundreds of people are still trying to recover from the loss of their homes and businesses.

Cumberland County assembled a coalition to address local issues from Matthew’s flooding and held their first meeting Tuesday evening. Many were still struggling following the Oct. 8 storm and the meeting aimed to let them know they have not been forgotten.

“It will be months, maybe a year or two years for actual, long-term recovery,” said Cumberland Disaster Recovery Coalition chairman Steve Rogers.

The Cumberland Disaster Recovery Coalition partners with organizations to provide information and resources after devastating events, including Hurricane Matthew.

“Now there’s still cleanups, muck outs and debris removal, so once all that is done, we’ll start doing case management,” Rogers said.

A spokesman for FEMA said that while $12.5 million have been dispersed in Cumberland County, there are still an average of 71 people registering for assistance daily.

“We’re able to work with bonafide agencies such as United Way, Cumberland Community Foundation and organizations that we could direct the citizens to who wanted help,” said Brenda Jackson with Cumberland County Social Services.

Rogers acknowledges the coalition is often at the mercy of the generosity of others, but trusts people to recognize what their neighbors are going through.

“A lot of people have moved on with life, but those who are still living in motels and shelters, they’re not,” he said.

In another meeting on Tuesday, at Robeson Community College, Gov. Pat McCrory's recovery team continued to help find permanent housing for victims.

Adrienne Kennedy and her sons have been staying at a Best Western since the storm.

"It's just a mental drain because you don't know when you are going back home," she said.

The governor's chief of staff, Thomas Stith, said information collected at the meeting would be used to prepare a relief package.

"Housing is a part of our request for our federal funding, but we also know that there will be unmet needs," Stith said.

McCrory may ask lawmakers to consider funding the relief package if he calls a special session in December.

"There were still some folks that remained in the flood area, so they may or may not be eligible for federal assistance," said Mike Sprayberry, North Carolina's Emergency Management director.

According to United Way committee member Ken Windley, some flood victims are not receiving even the most basic needs.

"There are about one in four, or one in five, people staying in hotels right now that are FEMA supported and they are going hungry because they don't have food and don't have anyway to get food," Windley said.

Kennedy said she has a small kitchen and a car to get food, but what she really wants is a place to call home.

"The hotel owners are being great to us, but there is no place like home," she said.


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