LUMBERTON — The city of Lumberton and Robeson County have set up online fundraising pages for those looking to help the people recover from catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew.
While power has been restored to most Lumberton residents, taps have dried up around the city as the municipal water plant is submerged by floodwater and inaccessible. The city’s Public Works building and Electric Utilities Department are also flooded.
Water dropped by Matthew continues to reach to tops of vehicles and higher in the hardest hit parts of the city, which include South Lumberton, Southeast Lumberton and areas around N.C. 211.
“At least 5,000 people are displaced and are dependent upon your financial support,” Lumberton Mayor Bruce Davis wrote on the city’s website. ” … It may be many weeks before water is restored due to the damage sustained at the water plant. As you may understand, this is obviously one of our most basic human needs. This is a very critical time as we seek your financial support.”
The online fundraiser had raised $2,290 within nine hours of being set up on Thursday. The page can be accessed by visiting lumberton.nc.us, scrolling down and clicking ‘donate’ or directly at goo.gl/KKNbz7.
“We need as much help as we can get and may God bless you for your efforts and support,” Davis wrote. “Please pray for our City.”
PayPal donations can also be made to the Robeson County government at goo.gl/a4EKp9.
“We have had a lot of folks who wanted to do that to donate,” said Kellie Blue, spokesperson for the county. “We had a lot of people contact us, so we set that up so we would have a secure site for them to go to.”
Blue said the funds will be earmarked for hurricane relief, but specific uses have not yet been determined.
“After we have an assessment we will figure out where it is needed,” she said, “but it will definitely go towards helping residents recover from Matthew.”
United Way of Robeson County is also collecting money and supplies for hurricane relief. Money will go into the agency’s existing disaster relief fund, according to Executive Director Latricia Freeman. One hundred percent of the money donated to the fund will go to relief efforts. If any money is left over in the fund, it will be saved for future emergencies, but Freeman doesn’t foresee that happening given the effect of Hurricane Matthew in Robeson County.
“I see this having an effect long-term,” she said of the storm. “You’re talking about people already struggling who are in worse conditions now. I see us using it all because the need is so great.”
Freeman said the agency is working to determine the best way to distribute the money. Typically, it supports nonprofit partner agencies that provide services to the community, but some of those agencies “are in trouble themselves,” she said. Two such agencies, My Refuge and the Robeson County Church and Community Center, are located on West Fifth Street, where some of the worst flooding has occurred.
Donations can be made by visiting unitedwayrobeson.org and clicking “Hurricane Matthew Relief.” Non-perishable food items, hygiene items, gallons of water and cleaning supplies can also be donated to United Way at Storage Solutions at 1990 N. Roberts Ave. Lumberton.
Anyone wishing to donate to relief efforts in Lumberton or Robeson County as a whole should verify the legitimacy of who they are donating to.