By: Christopher McGown
Two years ago Hurricane Matthew left much of Robeson County flooded. The residents who returned to rebuild their homes and lives felt a sense of dread as Hurricane Florence’s track zeroed in on North Carolina.
“We’re sixty miles in,” said Barbara White, a life-long resident of Lumberton. “It’s not the actual hurricane, it’s all the rain it dumped; not the wind, but the water,” White said she feels betrayed by the Lumber River which reached historic flood levels with Hurricane Matthew and crested nearly as high after Hurricane Florence.
The Salvation Army’s canteens are roving hard-hit neighborhoods in Lumberton. Offering not only cold water and a hot meal but also a listening ear. The Salvation Army understands that in times of physical need – food, shelter, water, etc. – there are also emotional and spiritual needs. The Salvation Army deploys trained staff and volunteers to meet the needs of the whole person.
“The [Lumber] River has always been part of our lives. We fish, boat, play in its creeks,” White went on. “But this…” her voice trailing off as tears welled up in her eyes.
“This is home” Tommy White, added, finishing his wife’s sentence on a more positive note. The Whites started dating in high school and have been together ever since. “We grew up here, our parents are here, our grandparents are here. We are raising our kids here.” The Whites have three children; two boys, 8 and 14 years old, and a 12-year-old daughter. “Family is too important to just pack-up and move away,” he added, tipping a nearly-empty water bottle as if to add an exclamation point.
Mrs. White got control of her voice to add “Our families have lived here for generations, all around us we have family, friends, our church, and good jobs; we’ve had two bad years out of probably a hundred.” As they walked back to their home to continue sorting and salvaging she added, “We’ll figure it out, we’ll make it; we always do.”
No doubt, that is true for the White family and many in Lumberton and Robeson County, they just need a little bit of help. The Salvation Army will continue to serve Robeson County, not only in times of disaster, but year-round; meeting the needs of the whole person.