LUMBERTON — The death toll rose in Robeson County on Tuesday, as rescue and cleanup efforts from Hurricane Matthew entered their third day.
Five people are dead as a direct result of the storm, according to Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey, speaking Tuesday at the Robeson County Emergency Operations Center.
Terry Strickland of Lumberton died in his car when it was swept off of N.C. 211 by storm water, according to Stephanie Chavis, Emergency Services Director.
Charles Ivey, 76, of Lumberton died when he fell into water at his home on West Fifth Street on Monday and was unable to recover.
Sealey said Tuesday the three latest victims were all female.
Details of the deaths are still emerging and those of the three female victims have not been confirmed by Robeson County Emergency Management. They do, however, have three people still listed as missing.
On tips from local residents and concerned family members, emergency response teams are being dispatched from the EOC to follow up.
Tuesday afternoon one elderly man’s life was feared for.
“A lady called in and felt like her father might be in trouble, she was not able to make contact with him. The man lived on the Lumber River,” Chavis said when the team leader reported back to her.
“I guess he got out in time, then,” Chavis said to the rescue coordinator.
Rescue teams reached the man’s home to check on his well being, but when they searched, the house was empty and the man’s vehicle was gone.
As well as rescue efforts, evacuations continued with homes along the Lumber River and on the south side of Lumberton being a particular focus, Chavis said.
As water has receded on the south side of railroad tracks that run across Second Street in Lumberton, it has begun to rise on the other side of the tracks. Residents of Mohr Plaza, a public housing complex that houses many elderly residents, was evacuated Tuesday morning.
Rescue teams from local, state, federal and multi-jurisdictional agencies were all working in Robeson. About 800 to 900 Robeson residents have been rescued from flooded areas, with all but about 100 rescues occuring on Monday.
Four Swiftwater Rescue teams have been deployed, made up of rescue personnel from several different states.
Tuesday saw the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, North Carolina Emergency Management, U.S. marshals, EMS Strikeforce teams, and emergency services from more than a dozen counties deployed.
With all of the extra bodies in town, it is up to Robeson to house, feed and bathe them.
“When we request these resources, we have to make sure that we have a place where they can shower, rest and eat,” Chavis said. “We can’t offer lodging, but we have an agreement with UNCP that we can use their gym, so we are trying to house some of those folks there.”
Around 150 emergency personnel are bedding down at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Throughout the day Tuesday, tired, dirty, hungry men and women traipsed through the EOC where showers and grills were running all day.
As of Tuesday evening, 1,379 people were staying in shelters set up across Robeson County, with most located at the Southeastern North Carolina Eastern Agricultural Events Center or Purnell Swett High School.
Shelters are in need of baby supplies, diapers for babies and elderly, underwear, socks, water and snacks. To donate, call 910-272-5867.
Statewide, there have been 14 confirmed weather-related fatalities and three people are still reported as missing. Three additional fatalities were confirmed overnight, one in Wake County, when a tree fell on a driver, and one each in Cumberland and Wilson counties, where victims were discovered in submerged vehicles.
The North Carolina National Guard has activated more than 1,000 troops, to assist with recovery efforts. There are also 400 high water and rescue vehicles which have been activated. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assist with rescues. The National Guard, State Highway Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard have increased aviation assets and completed more than 90 air rescues.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly