LUMBERTON — City officials say that conservation efforts are protecting the water supply, and that a retreating Lumber River could soon bring back to life wells that feed the system.
City Manager Wayne Horne said that six of eight wells are down, as well as an intake that draws directly from the river, putting a stress on the city’s water supply. The plant itself, which was offline for about a month after Hurricane Matthew, is working, benefiting from last-minute efforts to build a berm and to protect it.
“The conservation notice we are putting out seems to be working and the public is working with us,” Horne said. “We appreciate the conversation effort, it is helping us a lot.”
Horne said city residents are using about 2 million gallons a day, and that the plant is processing about 2.4 million gallons a day, allowing it to build a reserve.
He said that as the river, which crested on Monday at a record level of just above 25 feet, continues to drop, the intake at the river should re-engage, as well as two wells near the levee that he believes will come back on linesoon.
But he urged residents to continue to conserve water until the plant’s wells are back at capacity.
Horne also said the city has workarounds should the worst happen.
Everyone in the county had access to water, but county customers were still being advised to boil theirs for a minute before it is consumed.
Tuesday also brought some bad news, that the storm has become a killer in Robeson County.
According to the Highway Patrol, 83-year-old Robert Killman, of Gaddys Mill Road, Maxton, was killed about 7:43 a.m. on Monday when his vehicle was traveling on a Gaddys Mill and the road washed out, plunging his vehicle into a sinkhole. He died at the scene.
According to multiple reports, a motorist was killed Monday in an accident that was caused by high waters, but The Robesonian was unable to get any details, including the person’s name. The storm is now being blamed for more than 33 deaths in North Carolina and South Carolina.
News also arrived that President Donald Trump would visit North Carolina on Wednesday, and that he would make stops at the three hardest hit locations. No details were provided on where those locations would be.
On Tuesday, only about 1,400 customers of Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation were still without power, down from a high of almost 20,000. More than 8,000 customers of Duke Energy in Robeson County had regained their power. Those who wanted to check the status of Duke Energy could do so here — https://s3.amazonaws.com/outagemap.duke-energy.com/ncsc/default.html.
Lumberton had all its grids operating, and only localized outages.
Water continued to recede on streets in Lumberton, again the hardest hit area, and travel became easier. But city and county officials continued to ask people to stay off the roads so emergency personnel could do their jobs.
Alamac Road remained closed to all but emergency vehicles as it is the best access into the city.
Swift-boat teams continued to make rescues across the county, and more and more residents of Mayfair off N.C. 211 were leaving their homes.
The county had 1,271 evacuees in six shelters. If a person needs transportation to a shelter, they can get one by calling SEATS at 910-618-5679.
A curfew from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. remained in effect for the county and most municipalities, with the exception of Pembroke, whose offices will reopen today.
Classes in the public schools, Robeson Community College and at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke were canceled through the week.
Help was also beginning to arrive.
Several churches were feeding people hot meals, and Lumberton opened a warehouse at 2300 N. Cedar St. that will collect badly needed items for distribution later. The county is expected to provide information today on a distribution center it will be opening soon.
Editor Donnie Douglas can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5649.