Some patients being evacuated from Lumberton hospital as floodwaters linger

Posted October 12, 2016 2:39 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:38 p.m. EDT

— Critical-needs patients were being evacuated Wednesday afternoon from Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, but hospital officials said other patients will stay in the hospital as the city recovers from extensive flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Hospital officials said a diesel emergency power generator located outside the facility is causing an excessive amount of exhaust that is visible near the hospital, which some have mistaken as a fire.

The hospital's emergency department is on diversion, and the hospital is restricting visitors to patients in the main hospital. Emergency room patients are being limited to one visitor each.

Hundreds of residents in Lumberton were chased from their homes by floodwaters on Monday.

Boats and helicopters helped about 1,500 residents escape rising water. The water was pouring through an Interstate 95 underpass into neighborhoods in southwest Lumberton.

The Lumber River is about twice as high as normal and is expected to remain above flood stage for several days.

Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday visited Robeson County and said he sees progress but there is a long way to go.

Many roads remained closed because of heavy flooding and cars were still submerged up to their roofs.

More than 100 members of the National Guard and additional law enforcement officers are helping with the recovery efforts in Robeson County. McCrory said emergency crews have performed more than 600 rescues, 50 of which happened Tuesday night.

Many of the rescues are of people who approach standing water on the roadways and attempt to drive through.

"I actually live in Red Springs and it took about an hour just to get to Red Springs, so it's like you're having to go around everything and all the major roads to get from town to town are blocked," said resident Tyesha Mack. 'The bridges are out so it's a mess."

Robeson County is one of 34 counties approved for federal funding this week to help augment the costs of responding to the storm. It's also one of 14 counties where homeowners and renters can apply for federal assistance to repair or rebuild damaged homes.