Robeson County victims still struggle to recover from Hurricane Matthew
Posted April 4, 2017 7:18 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2017 7:31 p.m. EDT
Robeson County, N.C. — Nearly six months ago, flooding from Hurricane Matthew destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Many of those homes were in Robeson County.
Sharon Pierce is one of about 330 families still living in hotels after flood water from Hurricane Matthew chased them from their homes.
“I didn’t actually believe the water was going to come around, but it did,” Pierce said. “My husband was like, we have to get out. If it wouldn’t be for his brother getting the 18-wheeler to get us out, we would have been stuck.”
Now she and her five children are stuck in a one-bedroom unit at the Super 8 motel. Six-month-old Jermal was just seven days old when Hurricane Matthew arrived. Pierce said this is not how she wants to raise her children.
“If we had been at home, it would have been a little different,” Pierce said. “We could cook. They kids could have all their outside time. Family could come and visit like they want to. But here you really can’t.”
Matthew flooded hundreds of homes and shutdown businesses across Lumberton and Robeson counties. When the water receded, sand from the Lumber River made streets look like the beaches.
Today in Pierce’s neighborhood, debris from apartments being repaired line the streets, while families struggle to get their lives back to normal.
Pierce went to FEMA headquarters, which is still operating in the old Kmart building in Lumberton, to get help.
“I was telling them I was needing some help. The first deposit will be $755, and they were like they’re going to see what they can do,” Pierce said.
FEMA has 161 mobile homes for displaced families across the state.
So far 94 are occupied, including 22 in Robeson County. And the Robeson County Department of Social Services is providing assistance to get folks out of motels and back into permanent housing.
“As long as they have a sustainable income, we can get them a house for at least one to two months. We will pay for that. And also we do hook ups for their utilities,” Emily Jones, Robeson County spokesperson said.