Governor Cooper visits Lumberton to assess damage

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Friday, September 21, 2018
Governor Cooper stops in Lumberton to assess damage
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Governor Roy Cooper made a stop in Lumberton today to assess the damage.

LUMBERTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Governor Roy Cooper made several stops in Lumberton on Thursday, visiting one of the areas hardest-hit by Hurricane Florence.

"When you talk to people who didn't have a whole lot to start with, and you find out that because of this flood that they don't have anything, that's a tough situation. And it makes you know that we've got to step up and help," said Governor Cooper.

Governor Cooper started Thursday at the Robeson County Emergency Operations Center where he met with Robeson and Lumberton leaders as well as National Guardsmen, many of whom have been responsible for checking river gauges and assisting with rescues.

He also stopped on a bridge overlooking West 5th Street near the CSX tracks, which is still flooded out for several blocks. This was the area where a temporary berm was set up, using 5,000 sandbags just before Hurricane Florence made landfall. The temporary berm was breached over the weekend.

"We need to make sure that at the CSX line that we've got protection from the river and the bridge. There's a lot we need to do to shore up our infrastructure and get our businesses back up on our feet," said Governor Cooper.

Governor Cooper's stop comes just a day after he met with President Donald Trump, who spent Wednesday visiting storm-damaged areas throughout the state.

"The president said he would be 100 percent there for us for the long-haul. So I'm going to take him at his word, and hold the federal government to that. We know that we're going to need significant help. This is going to be a multi-billion dollar effort," Governor Cooper said.

The governor then made a stop at a Red Cross shelter, which was closed to the press. He wrapped up his trip to Lumberton by meeting and thanking volunteers with Baptist on Mission who were set up at Hyde Park Church.

Volunteers helped cook, prepare, and hand out up to 20,000 meals a day, with cars driving up to receive the food. Kimberly Stark was on the assembly line Thursday, despite her parent's uncertain situation.

"My parents live on Deep Branch Road, and they're blocked in all the way around with water," said Stark.

Comforted by the presence of the U.S. Coast Guard nearby, as well as other family members staying with them, Stark made it a point to assist flood victims.

"It's a great opportunity for our children to see that when someone's in need, we need to do something. We need to help," Stark said.

Hyde Park Church Pastor Jeff Blackburn said many families affected by Hurricane Matthew are once-again dealing with the fall-out of Florence.

"Lot of folks in my church and our community - it's just despair, and asking a lot of big life questions that are quite frankly just hard to answer," said Blackburn.

A site commander working with Baptist on Mission explained that some of the homes they helped rebuild following Hurricane Matthew have been damaged again. He pledged they would continue to help those, and others now affected from Florence.

Blackburn pointed to the large group of volunteers, some from throughout the state, others out-of-state, as a sign of perseverance through the tragic situation.

"Hope is in low supply right now going through this a second time. And every plate of food and every bottle of water is an expression of hope and love to the people that come through," he said.