LUMBERTON — Two producers working with “Good Morning America” who came to help tell the world the story of Hurricane Matthew and Lumberton and Robeson County’s recovery, ended up writing their own story — a happy one.
Edward Kostakis and Pablo Barrera, affected by what they saw and heard, decided to donated $2,500 that was shared equally by five impacted families — $500 each.
“We had some time to get to go around and get to know the people and their stories. And we felt like we had to do something as well,” Kostakis said. “We were brought here for a reason, not just to meet these people and see how they were affected by the flood.”
Kostakis and Barrera work with “Good Morning America” through their company Xizmo Media specializing in aerial shots and drone photography. During their advance preparation for the broadcast from Lumberton Junior High School, they felt moved to reach out to the school’s guidance counselor, Felicia Hunt, who put them in touch with the families.
The five selected families told their stories after the “Good Morning America” broadcast on Thursday. One family talked of more than a dozen people staying in a house without enough beds. Another told of living in a hotel since November and commuting 60 minutes to Lumberton for school and work every day.
“The compassion, the heart, the whole event has changed people’s hearts. People are reaching out from others states and countries, from everywhere and they come in and just pour out,” said William Troy, father of a family that was forced into emergency shelters and then in early November to a hotel room in Spring Lake.
The Troy family, one of the five recipient families, is now moving into a rental property and trying to set up a new home.
“We are, basically, having to start over and furnish an entire house, top to bottom,” Chander Troy said. “Every little bit helps. Every dollar, every thought, every prayer helps.”
Maria Stefanopoulos, a producer with ABC, said the experience in Lumberton had uniquely touched those involved unlike any other in her 17 years in television.
“We are a small business and we don’t have that much to give, but if we can just give a token to a couple of families so they can have a little bit of money so they can buy an extra bed so they are not sleeping on the ground or anything that can have that immediate effect to them,” Barrera said. “That’s what moved us, to see how everyone was going through the devastation, even if they didn’t have much to give were still supporting one another. We saw that and we thought, we have to do something too. We have to give something too.”
“It’s amazing, it’s unbelievable really,” said Jene McKinnon one of the people who benefited from the donation.
McKinnon has been staying with family members and a friend in Fayetteville since she lost everything in the flood.
The show aired a segment on Thursday’s “Good Morning America,” focusing its coverage on four students who had gone above and beyond in trying to help students who had been affected by the storm.