LUMBERTON — It’s been almost a year since James Earl Hammonds floated his wife, Myra, out of their home on a mattress, and recovery from Hurricane Matthew has not gotten much easier.
James and Myra remain camped in a tiny metal Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer. They are looking for a miracle to get them into their unfinished mobile home, located off Old 74 near New Visions Church of God, where James is the pastor.
A friend, Randy Lewis, contacted The Robesonian about their situation. He is clearly upset about the situation.
“They have fallen through the cracks,” Lewis said. “I am working with several churches to get help.
“We’re short of funds, and the trailer needs a lot of work.”
Although structurally sound, the double-wide mobile home lacks siding and underpinning outside, and Sheetrock and flooring inside. They have no appliances or furniture because Matthew’s floodwaters destroyed everything.
Myra has lived in the small community next to the Lumber River and behind the former central office of the Public Schools of Robeson County all her life. She had never seen flooding like what Hurricane Matthew brought, she said.
“We laid down about 11:30 Saturday night, and I woke up around two,” James said. “The water was ankle deep in the house.
“I was in and out of the house in the water. It was so cold, I had to get in bed to get warm. The last time I got into bed, the mattress was soaked.
“I called 911, and they said it would be morning before they could come. They never came. Hell had broken loose in Lumberton and Robeson County.”
His daughter’s boyfriend arrived about 10:30 a.m. Sunday in a boat, James said.
“We pulled the boat inside the house and floated my wife to it,” he said.
The boat made several more trips to get people away from Planetarium Road. Water was at the 10-foot mark on the Hammonds’ home when the boat left the road the final time.
They were able to stay out of an emergency shelter because they have family. But Myra’s health and nerves proved too fragile for family life, and they landed in a FEMA trailer off N.C. 72.
“It’s a roof,” James said. “When you sit in the living room, you’re in the kitchen, too.”
Lewis called it a metal storage pod, and Myra is confined to a cramped bedroom. Worse, FEMA wants to close out its trailer program in Robeson County by the end of the year.
“I could have bought a new trailer, but with my age and my wife’s illnesses, I couldn’t see going into debt,” James said. “I still wouldn’t have any furniture or appliances.”
They are in a similar boat as many people who lost their homes during Matthew, and are returning to homes but without furnishing. People who want to donate furnishings can do so at a warehouse at N. 2300 Cedar St.