LUMBERTON, NC (WIS) - Nearly two weeks after rain began falling in eastern North Carolina as Hurricane Florence made landfall, historic water levels are beginning to drop.
Lumberton, NC received more than a foot of rain in Florence’s aftermath, leaving much of the small town submerged under more than six feet of water for days.
For many residents, Florence’s arrival is an unwelcome sight, as they continue to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Matthew, which pummeled the town in 2016.
“It’s a little gut-wrenching right now being it’s the second time in two years,” Jordan Locklear, who returned to his home for the first time on Monday, said. “It was supposed to be a once in a lifetime, two-lifetime floods - it’s rough.”
Locklear evacuated with his family two weeks ago and has visited his mobile home a couple of times by boat since the rain stopped. He lost his previous mobile home as a result of Hurricane Matthew and said when he went to rebuild, state regulations required him to elevate the home slightly.
“It definitely saved our home from water this time,” he said. “Had we not done that, we’d have water in our house.”
Prior to Hurricane Matthew, Locklear said he and his wife had lived in Lumberton for eight months and while she is ready to leave following Florence, he is not.
“We had just bought the land and property and it’s hard to just pick up and go when you put everything you got into where you are now,” he said.
As residents continue to return to their homes unaware of what they may find, numerous volunteer groups from around the state and country are helping those who need it.
“I pray every day that I can be of service to the Lord. I’m able to do that here,” Preston Rumba, a volunteer with the North Carolina Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief, said. “People need help and we’re lifting a hand.”
Rumba and several others spent the day cleaning out a neighborhood church damaged by flood waters. Insulation, pews, and dry-wall were carried out by the handful as water crept inside the church during the flooding.
Rumba said they’ll remain in town as long as they’re needed.
“When you see someone who can actually come back into their house…you give them the key back and there’s tears…it’s great,” Rumba said getting choked up. “It’s incredibly rewarding for all of us.”