Little things help victims cope

LUMBERTON — At a time when many families have lost it all to Hurricane Matthew floodwaters, for some it’s the little things that mean a lot.

For Latasha McCormick, it was a picking up a couple of coloring books and a box of crayons for her granddaughter.

The Lumberton woman was among many people who were able to get food and clothing on Monday outside the Robeson County Church and Community Center, located at 600 W. Fifth St. Her granddaughter was on her mind as she looked through supplies and found coloring books and crayons.

“It will give my granddaughter something to do. She doesn’t have anything to do,” McCormick said. “It will keep her mind occupied while we try to get everything back together.”

McCormick, her daughter and granddaughter lived in a mobile home.

“Everything flooded out, clothes, furniture. There’s a lot of water damage. The floors are wet. There’s a bad smell,” McCormick said.

The water was about chest high in her home when McCormick was rescued by a cousin who came in a boat to get them to safety. Like thousands of others, McCormick has relied on help from those who were able to offer it.

“Everywhere we go you’ve got somebody giving out water, clothes, and food,” she said. “It’s really good that they came together to help us like this. A lot of people lost everything. A lot of kids lost everything.”

Douglas Burton, president of Skyline DKI, a property restoration company, was serving up food and distributing supplies on Monday. Burton said he arrived in Lumberton to check on businesses with which the company has an account and found that most of them were not severely damaged.

“We had our resources here so we thought, let’s throw a luncheon for the town and for the residents who are displaced,” Burton said. “We were able to come down with the intention of feeding a couple thousand people.”

Burton said as the word spread, they received help from surrounding neighbors, local stores, the Red Cross, and others.

‘There’s just been volunteers from everywhere who learned that we were here and started donating clothes and pantry items, bathroom items,” Burton said. “It’s just been awesome to see the turnout and people coming through. Some of them haven’t eaten in a couple of days so to be able to give them food and see the joy that it brings them is just amazing.”

Many people seem to still be in a state of shock, he said.

“They don’t know when they’ll be able to get back in their house and how they are going to survive.”

Flora Cain’s home on Swan Drive flooded.

“We lost everything. FEMA’s already been in to look at it,” Cain said as she looked through clothing items at the center Monday.

Cain is staying with her niece for the time being.

Toshia Hardin’s home is on Jones Street near Luther Britt Park. She was only able to go back inside her home on Sunday but until she has a visit from FEMA, she doesn’t know the extent of the loss.

“It was dark in there and I couldn’t see everything but yes, there’s been quite a bit of damage,” Hardin said. “It requires a lot of work before it’s livable again but at this point I’m just thankful.”

Hardin had received donations of clothes and was passing some of them on to others.

“What I couldn’t use I brought to give away here,” Hardin said.

Norman Smith, pastor of First Pentecostal Holiness Church on East Fifth Street in Lumberton, and other church members, fed about 500 people on Monday.

“Electricity came back on and the water’s down but they’ve lost everything,” Smith said.

At the same time, the church is dealing with some damage to its building.

“Our church had some stuff come down from the roof and we have to have our carpet redone. It’s not too bad,” Smith said.

They started feeding the neighborhood on the Wednesday following the flooding.

“We fed hot dogs out here. We had 680 people we fed them,” Smith said. “We’ve been giving out supplies all week.”

Latasha McCormick gets crayons and coloring books on Monday outside the Robeson County Church and Community Center where those affected by flooding went for food, household supplies, and water. McCormick gets crayons and coloring books on Monday outside the Robeson County Church and Community Center where those affected by flooding went for food, household supplies, and water.


By Terri Ferguson Smith

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