Holidays less cheerful for Lumberton residents still reeling from Matthew

Holidays less cheerful for Lumberton residents still reeling from Matthew

LUMBERTON, NC (WMBF) – Hundreds of Lumberton residents impacted by Hurricane Matthew gathered at the Department of Social Services Thursday night to meet with Federal Emergency Management officials.

While the holiday season is generally a time of celebration, many of these people are still reeling more than two months after Matthew impacted the area.

A number of the residents who came to the FEMA meeting are still living in hotels, motels or with relatives.

"The room next to me has a mother and three children," said resident Sherby Hammonds. "The room in front of me has a mother, a father and two children. The room just down from me, there's four to five people in these rooms."

The biggest struggle for many is a lack of information.

"One of the keys to recovering from a disaster is making sure you get the right information to people who need assistance, and people who are in a position to give assistance," said William L. Rukeyser, with FEMA's public affairs office

While FEMA is working tirelessly to provide aid, many people here do not have the information they need to get assistance, or have been denied aid.

One woman said her residents were told they need to move out of their motel by early January.

Many people in Robeson County are frustrated. Many feel abandoned, and almost all are searching for a way to get their way of life back.

"FEMA is basically what it is; it's come in," Hammonds said. "That's a short-term answer. This is a long-term problem."

The deadline to apply for FEMA relief has been moved to Jan. 9.

According to officials at the Lumberton meeting, residents whose homes are still uninhabitable once their assistance ends in early January will need to contact FEMA and get a 90-day extension.

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