LUMBERTON — A one-stop shop for Hurricane Matthew victims looking for help recovering from the storm’s devastating touch will soon lock it doors.
The Robeson County Housing Outreach Center at 301 N. Water St. in Lumberton will close its doors on Aug. 31.
“The center was a valuable asset to Hurricane Matthew survivors over the last two months,” County Manager Ricky Harris said.
But the number of people using the center dropped from 100 a week in July to only four or five a week now, he said.
The center was opened July 10 after the Federal Emergency Management Agency closed its Transitional Shelter Assistance office in the old Kmart building at 2750 N. Roberts Ave. in Lumberton. It was a joint program including Robeson County government, the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management and the city of Lumberton.
“The city allowed us to open up this center in a city-owned building,” said Dawn Gavasci, a county Department of Social Services program manager.
Gavasci has been serving as an intermediary with state and local agencies helping hurricane victims.
“Initially, when we first opened we had a good flow of people coming in,” Gavasci said.
The number of people being helped fell to a level where it was deemed a more efficient use of resources to direct people to other assistance agencies, she said.
Until Aug. 31, the center offers services and referrals to hurricane victims needing assistance with such issues as housing, construction, rental assistance and mental disorders, such as depression. North Carolina Emergency Management staff, counselors and case managers with Robeson County’s long-term disaster recovery committee, and disaster case managers with Lutheran Family Services are among the people working out of the center.
“We wanted to let people know that we’re closing, but there are agencies they could reach out to for help,” Gavasci said.
Hurricane Matthew survivors who need assistance may contact the agencies listed below for resources to help in the recovery process. The agencies will assist or refer individuals with issues such as housing, construction, rental and utility assistance, crisis counseling and educational attainment.
Agencies assisting or providing services are:
— N.C. Emergency Management Individual Assistance Division, 855-336-2002.
— Robeson County Disaster Recovery Committee, 910-370-1648.
— Lutheran Family Services, 910-370-0257.
— Hope for NC-Crisis Counseling Program, 910-374-4649.
Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.