Repairs to be made to sacred Lumbee Tribe dam to prevent flooding

Lumbee Tribe Cultural Center Lake undergoing dam repair

ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WMBF) - Construction is underway on the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina’s Cultural Center Lake located on Terry Sanford Drive in Maxton.

Crews continued removing trees on Tuesday from the embankment.

Dr. Freda Porter, a tribe administrator, said the lake is one of the tribe’s most sacred places and once a gathering ground for pow wows and water activities.

"A lot of people came to this lake to get their fish, their food for the day and so it's very important for people and it's such a spiritual place," she said.

The lake was emptied in 2016 to design and engineer dam repairs.

Porter said the embankment over-topped twice during Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, causing widespread flooding in the area. It was deemed a high-risk dam.

"There was a significant increase in rainfall from that hurricane, which changed the rating requirement," Porter said.

Roberta Locklear, who’s lived near the lake for around 30 years, said their area was told to evacuate during Florence. They decided to stay and wait out the storm.

"That was really stressful time for us because we wondering where we going to have to grab our things and leave,” Locklear said.

Porter said most of the embankment surrounding the lake will be elevated two feet and a concrete slab will be added.

The dam will also be resurfaced for wave protection and to prevent erosion.

“Now we have more protective measures in place to prevent over-topping and to allow the dam to function more effectively,” Porter said.

The project is expected to be completed in six months.

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