Lumber River expected to crest for the second time since Florence

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Robeson County emergency officials are warning residents of an expected second crest of the Lumber River this weekend, just as some people are finally getting a chance to see the damage caused by Hurricane Florence.

“It’s devastated. Ruined again,” said Tim Locklear, as he described his brother’s barber shop along West 5th Street.

“Again” refers to Hurricane Matthew, which struck in October 2016, and put the shop out of commission for nearly eight months.

“We were told it was like a 100-year storm, it would never happen in our lifetime. And it hasn’t even been two years,” Locklear said.

Locklear came down to take pictures to send to his brother, who lost power and had a tree fall down on his street which blocked him in.

“To have gone through it once, it’s really, really fresh in people’s minds. So unless you’ve been through it, it’s hard to explain, it’s hard to describe, and it’s even harder to go through it,” said Locklear.

A block away, people used boats to navigate the knee-high floodwaters.

Woody Norris made sure his family evacuated prior to Hurricane Florence, but he’s still here.

“Devastating to see this again, you know? And the smell and the mold, unbearable you know. I’ve been in houses that they didn’t tear them out and they just lived in them right on and the smell was so bad, and you can hardly stand it. But now I tore all of mine out the first time, but this time I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll take it one day at a time,” Norris said.

He explained a fair share of his neighbors opted not to return following Hurricane Matthew, with fears that Hurricane Florence will end up driving even more away.

“The first time it seemed like I could take it a little bit more. This second time, it’s just more than I can handle right now. Ain’t going to be no third time, I’m just going to walk off and leave it,” Norris explained.

Robeson County EOC officials said of the areas they have been able to get to and survey, they reported 508 people have been evacuated, 510 structures have been damaged, nine buildings had structural failures (described as “roof or support posts collapsed”), and 31 buildings were destroyed.

A boil water notice for Robeson County has been lifted, with the city of Lumberton encouraging people to conserve water.

Due to the second crest of the river expected to take place this weekend, Robeson County EOC officials explained that water is moving downstream from the west, creating dangerous conditions.