All hand on decks approach needed for Matthew victims

When it comes to Robeson’s recovery from Hurricane Matthew, we favor an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Unfortunately, as we pen this as many as 90 helping hands have been idled over what we believe — and hope — is no more than a silly misunderstanding that can be fixed quickly and easily.

Last week, Ken Windley, this county’s manager for eight years, during which he was employed by several members of the current Robeson County Board of Commissioners, complained publicly that the county has not funded the local disaster recovery committee, of which he is chairman. The committee, which was created at the directive of the state and FEMA, has about 45 members representing 20 or so local organizations, people who have volunteered to provide brain and brawn while helping the hardest hit by the storm back to their feet.

Windley, who has asked the county for $10,000 but has neither the money or a reply, hinted that the snub could be personal as his relationship with some commissioners was sour when they split in 2010.

Tom Taylor, the chairman of the county board, says there is no vendetta, and he met with Windley last week to make that clear. Taylor and County Manager Ricky Harris say that the Lumber River Council of Governments has been contracted to do housing-related relief in the storm’s wake, and that they need to see a plan from Windley so that services are not “duplicated.”

Last week Windley missed a meeting with Taylor, a FEMA representative, Harris and two commissioners. Windley said he was unaware of the meeting, but county officials say he asked for it.

The commissioners might have revisited Windley’s request during a regular meeting Monday, but that probably will not happen as Taylor plans to get Windley together with Harris and the FEMA representative so that they can read from the same script when the commissioners are again asked for funding. Presumably that will happen before the commissioners’ meeting on March 20.

We don’t know the exact truth in this dust up, but typically it can be found in the middle.

We do know this: While the commissioners should be tight-fisted with county dollars, $10,000 is a speck of sand in the Mojave desert that is a $160 million budget. If the commissioners took a BIC lighter to a stack of cash that totaled 10 grand, it would be a good use of that money to sidestep the criticism they would receive for not funding the local committee. Should that happen, it would be hard for the county to deny the grudge.

We understand the worry about duplicate services, and folks should not be stumbling over each other while trying to privide the same aid to those who still live in a hotel or with friends or relatives. But there is plenty more recovery to be achieved, and we doubt there could be too many hands on deck.

This is an easy fix. Taylor, Harris and Windley need to meet, agree on how the Windley’s committee can best help, and then a check be written.

Those still suffering from Matthew need to know that every effort that is reasonable is being made on their behalf.

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