Lumberton residents devastated by historic flooding

Lumberton residents devastated by historic flooding

LUMBERTON, SC (WMBF) - The Lumber River is at record-breaking levels and homes are still flooded after days. Many people are still trying to recover and have been forced to seek shelter throughout the county.

"Everything we have is destroyed. We've just been riding around in our vehicles, living out of our vehicles," said Leslie Baxley, one woman who is stuck at the only up-and-running emergency shelter now with her family.

Quatajia Gatlin said, "The water was already up to my waist. It's hard, I've cried and cried and cried." Edna Dowless added, "I never thought in a million years Lumberton would be like this. I'm not even sure we're going to get out of this."

Three women, three lives changed, with three different stories. All three talked with WMBF News on day three as they were out of their homes and looking for answers. "Sunday morning, it was already covered, everything cars were under water and so we pushed the water our with our truck and everybody followed behind us," Baxley said.

Power is out at the shelter at Bill Sapp Rec Center, so 300 people were forced to leave and head to the one and only running shelter at St. Pauls High School. Social services workers said they opened up Saturday morning and have 85 people, but after Tuesday afternoon, expect close to 500 after all five other shelters are shut down too. Fort Brag donated 80 cots and the National Guard dropped off loads of supplies of food and clothing.

Baxley added, "And they gave us toys and big bags of clothes for them so just to see people you don't know and pull up and hand it to you"

People at the shelter said there has been an outpouring of support from St. Paul's, Fayetteville and all of Robeson county coming together during this time.

Dowless said, "Oh my gosh it's heart breaking knowing I have to start all over again. I have two children and a single parent, it's really tough its hard, I mean we have nowhere else to go, but here. It's devastating to lose everything I own, and knowing my mother has lost everything she owns as well, its hard."

Frustration, fear, and the unknown are the feelings of many as they lost everything. Gatlin explained, "You got some people down and depressed and some people trying to lift up other spirits and they are happy and jolly trying to help everything but you know deep down they are hurting."

"To take so many years to try to build it up and it's all washed away and when you have kids you got to look strong and try to pretend to be strong and them wanting to know what's going on, it's hard to try and stay positive and give them hope, but it's just feels like you're lost," Baxley said.

Over the past three days, crews have been stationed at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and 2nd Street with the FEMA Urban Search Rescue teams who are in charge of getting the task force units. A total of ten have gone along the coast since Friday and just in Lumberton teams with New York, Missouri, New Jersey and Ohio were here helping with rescue operations. Over thirty boats just along Martin Luther King drive were rescuing people. First responders from Lumberton Fire and Lumberton Police said people are just leaving animals inside the homes and that's what the goal is, to get animal control and the emergency shelters to get the dogs a safe place. A total of 20 were found just on Tuesday of what people had to leave behind inside their homes as they evacuated.

Dowless said, "The community can come together and support us when we are in need you know even though Lumberton is number one in crime rates and everything, but Robeson county altogether have showed us so much support and I really appreciate everything everyone has done for us.

The unknown and devastation the floods are leaving behind in Lumberton in the dark and under water.

"I don't know how long its going to take you know maybe days months I'm hoping not months but days or weeks, you never know how long its going to take, but things will get better, I keep my faith in God and I know things will get a whole lot better," Dowless said.

FEMA said they will be in Lumberton until the need is no longer there, and start to see the water levels start to go down.

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