LUMBERTON — A little more than six months after the flood from Hurricane Matthew, the Robeson County Church and Community Center plans to re-open its Home Store and Food Pantry on West Fifth Street, which sits right beside the Lumber River and was swamped by never-seen-before flooding.
The Home Store is currently accepting donations as it puts the retail store back together. After opening, RCCC plans weekly giveaways of food and clothing in the parking lot. The Food Pantry will be open on its regular schedule.
Workers were installing Sheetrock and flooring this week in the two West Fifth Street buildings, which used to belong to a car dealership. Simultaneously, workers were moving clothing, food and furniture from RCCC’s temporary warehouse on Starlite Drive.
Darlene Jacobs, director of the nonprofit, pointed out its charity work continued even when it was knocked out of its permanent home.
“We’ve helped at least 10,000 people and provided donated items to the Public Schools of Robeson County and social workers,” said RCCC Director Darlene Jacobs. “I’m very proud of the teamwork that went into our recovery.”
Robeson County designated RCCC as the distribution center for food, water, cleaning supplies, clothing and furniture and installed them in a former factory and warehouse on Starlite Drive. Mountains of donations piled up in the warehouse, which is the size of two football fields.
“This was all new for us, but we’ve had generous donations from businesses and individuals here and as far away as Louisiana and California,” Jacobs said. “What really impressed me is the donations from people who used to live in Robeson County and moved away. Awesome.”
RCCC got financial support from the Robeson County Board of Commissioners and the Lumber River Council of Government, which turned federal disaster relief money into temporary labor.
RCCC proved itself during the disaster aftermath, but it suffered considerable damage to its facilities and its budget.
“We had insurance, but it did not cover everything,” Jacobs said. “Thieves stole the wiring from both buildings after the flood, so that unanticipated cost ran about $80,000 to $90,000,” Jacobs said. “Our losses are around $150,000.”
RCCC is funded through grants, donations and churches. With its deficit, a major fundraising campaign is needed, Jacobs said.
“Recovery is a long-term process,” Jacobs said. “There is more to do.”