Nearly a week after storm, Lumberton still mired in floodwater

Nearly a week after storm, Lumberton still mired in floodwater

LUMBERTON, SC (WMBF) - The main concern for many people is not knowing when will they return to normal life, because after five days of living in a shelter, they said there is no end in sight.

WMBF News is hearing the stories of those people firsthand who are still not able to get back inside their homes to even check on the water levels from what the Lumber River spilled into their neighborhoods.

Randy Faircoth is one man who evacuated his family to Purnell Swett High School in Pembroke, which was the closest shelter to his Lumberton home.

He said, "This is like our own little community, everybody's here, we came together, so we're going to leave together." Faircoth said he knew Monday that the water was too high and he he had to leave.

The Pembroke shelter had 800 people living out of it at one point. That's why North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory went there to visit the families on Wednesday afternoon. Faircoth said hearing Governor McCrory gave his wife and kids a small glimmer of hope.

"They had a couple helicopters so I was like, 'Oh what's going on here,' and then I heard the Governor was here and everything else. And he talked to my wife and I in the gym, because my wife was just really worried about our dogs and they aren't used to being separated from us. You know it was really nice to see people like that actually show that they care instead of just forgetting about us," said Randy Faircoth.

Faircoth and his family came from Connecticut to start a new life, and he explained how dealing with winter is much different than what the damage water can do.

"We moved out of Connecticut because we had a lot of problems. So we moved to Virginia for a while and then we ended up starting all over with the stuff we had. And then as soon as this hit, we lost everything again, so we have to start from scratch again," Faircoth said.

"We already had little already and then we come down and just lose everything. But we're real happy that we are all together. It's okay, we'll be okay," added Faircoth's daughter, Crystal.

"We are a neighborhood and we are together. I'm talking about if one needs some help, we step in and help," explained Rafael Ramos on the other side of Lumberton in the southern end.

They are two different families in two different parts of Lumberton, both with similar stories who were forced to evacuate from their flooded homes.

"They picked us up first, I pulled my son, my wife in the truck and my dog," Ramos added. He said the moments leading up to when he knew the water was so high he had to get out as soon as possible, the water was up to his chin.

"That was where the water was, when the waves were coming through water was going in. The water was going so fast within 20 minutes, 20 minutes you could see the river current going down there and coming by my driveway. I'm talking about stepping off my porch this high, it was up to there, so when you stepped to the street, it was up to here, right there," Ramos said.

Bryan Collins, a friend of Ramos' started to make rescues on their own.

"I have never seen a storm like this, I have never seen a flood like this. I've never even heard about it being bad like that," said Bryan Collins.

Both Collins and Ramos explained what it was like to make sure their entire neighborhood was safe, even the elderly.

"They had walkers and wheelchairs and weren't able to get out. We broke windows and broke down some doors to get in and rescue them," Collins said.

The Pembroke shelter is still in need. The manager there said hygiene items are the most necessary right now, so everyone is hoping people will continue to donate. Especially because there is no timeline on how long the shelters will be full.

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