Misery now, a struggle ahead for Robeson County after flooding from Hurricane Matthew

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Quillin, Martha. "Misery now, a struggle ahead for Robeson County after flooding from Hurricane Matthew." News and Observer [Raleigh, NC] October 15, 2016.


With an effect further inland than most expected and twice as much rain as predicted, Hurricane Matthew had a disastrous impact on Lumberton and all of Robeson County on October 8, 2016.

When it made its initial impact on Haiti, Matthew was a Category 4 Hurricane, but it had lost some of its force by the time it hit the United States. Still, it caused flash floods inland and “the worst flooding as a delayed effect in places that lie along major rivers and the macrame of small streams that look like tiny blue blood vessels on maps of Eastern North Carolina. As they filled with water draining from the landscapes upstream through the week after the storm passed, little creeks turned into rivers and rivers went Amazon.”

Lumberton is in the Jacob Swamp District, a district that has a 2.8-mile dike system and 18 miles of canals. Citizens say that ordinarily the dike works, but after a freak storm September 28, 2016, the Lumber River rose more than six feet, which is 2.5 feet above Flood Stage. The river had not returned to normal levels by the time Hurricane Matthew hit, just 10 days later.

On Oct. 10, 2016, the Lumber River peaked at 22 feet, which is nine feet above Flood Stage. Water proceeded to spread everywhere, including Lumberton’s Water Treatment Plant. This left 22,600 people with no running water. Many people lost homes, cars, food and more. Not to mention, Robeson County is one of the poorest counties in the state, so many did not have much to begin with. Donations were made in response to the flooding and bedding was a priority, along with shoes, food and water. 

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