Parts of Lumberton still underwater and impassable

Parts of Lumberton still underwater and impassable

LUMBERTON, SC (WMBF) - Several feet of water is still in the Lumberton area because the Lumber River is above record flood level and the National Weather Service does not expect it to fall below record stage for a week.

It is disheartening news, specifically for the hundreds of people seeking shelter at St. Paul's High School, which has been open for five days and the numbers have not gone down.

Many people said they are just hoping this time will pass and that's why they are finding refuge in the emergency shelter.

The shelter workers said they are blown away by the number of donations being unloaded from people and no one knows who they are. The entire community of Robeson County is coming together during this time, as well as seeing volunteers from Fayettville, St. Paul's, Pembroke and beyond.

"Our house is gone. We lost everything. Our house is underwater. We lost a dog in the water and floods," said Quatajia Gatlin. "I mean we just don't know. We can't figure it out; we're just taking it day by day."

The shock of that loss has not yet hit Gatlin or her husband.

"I've seen it on TV and seen it in movies, but I never thought it would happen to Lumberton," she said. "It could be days, some people say weeks, months, I'm just not sure."

That uncertain timetable is because the water has not begun receding in parts of Lumberton where Gatlin lives and where so many people used to call home.

With a baby on the way, Gatlin says these donated things are more important than ever.

"They gave us our cots, so me and my husband set up our stuff and we made it where it was like a bed so we would be comfortable and put our cots together," she said. "I got some baby bottles, some diapers, some wipes, some formula, things like that, some blankets."

One family living out of the truck said at least they have each other and are just hoping and praying the temporary shelter life will pass soon.

Gary Hunt said after heavy rain on Saturday afternoon, only his yard was covered and he thought they were safe. Then, his family woke up Sunday morning and saw the water had reached their truck.

Hunt gathered his wife, kids and grandchildren, and with only the clothes on their back, they went to the shelter.

"You know, we went through one storm. It's nothing like this one here," Hunt said. "We didn't lose everything back then and now we are just down and out, and we just got nothing and have to depend on everyone else now. I ain't never had to do that in life. It's really hard to do something like that."

Hunt has tried to be the rock for his family and at times it is hard to hold it together. He added it's hard for people to really know what this feels like unless it is happening to them.

Lisa Burnette is also seeking emergency shelter and came up to the trucks being unloaded with items on Wednesday.

"There are still people that haven't gotten in their homes that are destroyed, and you have to think about all these babies out here too and the people that drowned here in Lumberton," she said.

The state's emergency operations center did confirm two flood-related death in Lumberton due to Hurricane Matthew.

Those who have been forced to seek refuge at the shelters do not know how long they will be their saving grace.

"When they do say, 'It's dried up. You can go back home,' ain't nothing to go back to," Hunt said.

But for now, he is grateful his family has a place to lay their heads, eat, bathe and just be together.

"When times get hard, that's what you have to do is pull together," he said.

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