LUMBERTON — A team of volunteers is trying to keep its privately funded Hurricane Matthew relief effort going, but is again asking for donations.
Randy Lewis and his volunteers will provide the sweat, having already renovated 10 storm-damaged homes and with plans to begin working on two on Monday, including the home of a 97-year-old woman. But they need some help.
The member of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Lumberton has led the relief effort since the storm tore through the region on Oct. 8, 2016, leaving a trail of damaged and destroyed homes in its wake.
Springing into action upon learning of countless residents forced into motels without adequate food, Lewis initially worked to make sure displaced people had at least one hot meal a day. After two months of feeding lines of Matthew refugees, Lewis and some volunteers helped find and furnish apartments for as many people as possible.
In May 2017, Lewis and his team shifted focus from apartment hunting to rebuilding storm-damaged homes.
“We’re Christian men. We can’t just quit when people don’t have houses. We work until the Lord tells us to stop,” Lewis said.
Next on the repair list is the house of 97-year-old Genova Holmes. The bedroom of Holmes’ home on Wiregrass Road in Lumberton has nearly collapsed as a result of Matthew..
Holmes has only about 2 feet of space on which she can maneuver through the room, a task made more difficult because she depends on a walker.
Also on the list is a home on Benson Chapel Church Road in Rowland.
The house, occupied by an elderly couple, is a safety hazard because drop cords run across the home’s floors directly to the electrical box.
“It was an easy choice. We try to start with whoever is in the worst shape.” Lewis said about the selection process.
And the pleas for help continue to pour in via telephone, Facebook or in-person requests.
“My phone rings off the hook every day,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ team, which includes Jimmy Oxendine, George Locklear, Wade Hall, Leroy Burke, the Rev. Dr. Mike Cummings, and a number of carpenters, plan to divide the work at both homes among themselves. They hope to start the projects Monday and complete the work within a week.
Anyone interested in donating should contact Mike Sessoms or James Sessoms at Zion Hill Baptist Church, located at 12883 N.C. 41 in Lumberton, or call Lewis at 910-544-8839. Money donations are welcome, as well as supplies that can be used in the renovation work.