LUMBERTON — Lumberton and Robeson County residents who wanted to watch the local response to Hurricane Matthew on national television this morning had to wait through several teasers and 100 minutes of regular programming before they got their wish.
The stars of “Good Morning America” — including Robin Roberts, Mike Strahan and George Stephanopoulos — remained in their New York studios, but a remote crew was at Lumberton High School for the segment, which began at 8:40 a.m. in the two-hour broadcast that began at 7 a.m.
The segment singled out four educators for the work they did in helping students cope following the flooding.
Angela Faulkner, Tara Bullard, Felicia Hunt and Vicki McGuirt listened and watched as GMA showed a video of interviews from teachers and students who talked about their hard work in making sure children had the supplies and other necessities they needed when they returned to school.
The network also announced a donation from its parent company Disney to build a new playground and a $50,000 donation from Lowe’s Home Improvement for the Parkview Activity Center.
A couple of hours earlier, with the sun still on the rise and freezing temperatures, vehicles carrying people wanting to be part of the event were pulling into the field behind Lumberton Junior High School. They were greeted by the flashing lights of Lumberton police and flashlight-waving officers and the school’s JROTC cadets.
“Parking cars. That’s all we’ve been doing. We’re trying to keep out hands warm.” Cadet Oscar Martinez, 16, said with a smile.
At the field’s edge people flowed toward the school and returned to their vehicles to stay warm after being told adults would not be allowed to enter the auditorium where the ABC television network was being broadcast. There were live teasers of what was coming beginning at 7:30 a.m. and continuing at 7:42 a.m., 8:01 a.m. and 8:11 a.m.
In the school’s quadrangle students were hustled one group at a time through the shadows toward the auditorium. Adding to the controlled chaos were members of the Lumberton’s High band moving through the doors toward the auditorium.
American Red Cross representatives strolled the campus telling people huddled in the cold that coffee and donuts were available.
The broadcast was billed as a chance to show how Robeson County has rebounded from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew. It also was to focus on the junior high campus and the students, which include West Lumberton Elementary students, attending classes there.
“I’m here to participate in all the festivities “Good Morning America” has to offer,” said Barbara Sinclair, a Robeson Countuy native who lives in Fayetteville.
Sinclair, 48, was one of the members of the ABLE Foundation in Red Springs getting supplies to victims of the Oct. 8 storm and resulting flooding. She also worked at Red Springs and Purnell Swett high schools assisting victims.
“I was a flooding victim,” said Amanda Ford, 55.
The West Lumberton resident came to participate as an audience member.
“And I came to have a good time,” she said. “‘Good Morning America’ is my favorite show.”
Also representing post-storm assistance volunteers were members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Chapter 8969.
“We were down here two days after the storm hit to help with the relief effort,” said Allen Payne, state junior vice commander.
The VFW has been in Robeson County offering help to storm victims almost every day since the storm hit, the Statesville resident said. Members came to the school in answer to ABC’s call for volunteers.
A group of Robeson County government administratorswas also on hand.
“We were invited,” said Emily Jones, public information officer. “We’re here to show our support and to show our love for Lumberton and Robeson County.”
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974.