$5.1M earmarked for Robeson

By: By T.C. Hunter - [email protected]

LUMBERTON — Another $5.1 million in federal money is coming to Robeson County to help with Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency money will go to the Housing Authority of the city of Lumberton and to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, according to Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose 9th District includes all of Robeson County. The money adds to the total of $139,893,449 in state and federal money allocated to Robeson County to help recover from the hurricane that struck in October 2016.

Robeson County’s allocation is part of the more than $1.6 billion in state and federal money sent to North Carolina for storm recovery, according to the state Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management office.

According to Pittenger’s office, the Housing Authority will receive $1,522,651 to repair 16 units at the Myers Park complex and $2,430,766 to repair 12 additional housing units. The Lumbee Tribe will receive $1,162,454 to repair an earthen dam and spillway at the Lumbee Cultural Center near Pembroke.

When the money will be received is not known. It is the state’s responsibility to distribute the money to affected counties and municipalities, according to Pittenger.

The congressman is frustrated because the federal relief money is being sent to Raleigh and there it sits waiting to be dispersed to its intended recipients, said Jamie Bower, a Pittenger spokesman. Federal money allocated in December 2016 has yet to be released by the North Carolina government.

As of Oct. 5, nearly $237 million in federal Hurricane Matthew assistance money has been provided to rebuild homes in North Carolina, but the money has not yet been released by the state Emergency Management office, according to Pittenger. Of the $198.5 million in federal Housing and Urban Development funding awaiting release by the state Emergency Management office as of Oct. 5 about $71 million is designated for Robeson County and about $35 million is designated for Cumberland County.

“This is incredibly frustrating, but much more so for families in Robeson, Cumberland and Bladen who are still awaiting promised help to rebuild their homes,” Pittenger said in early October.

“Hurricane Matthew recovery has been my priority since I-95 was still under water,” Pittenger said Monday. “My team and I consider this a ministry, and while federal and state bureaucracy can be slow and frustrating, we are still fighting and we are committed to seeing this project through to completion.”

It is not certain when the repairs to the dam at the Lumbee Cultural Center will be completed, Tribal Administrator Freda Porter said Monday.

“Repairs haven’t begun, but the process of getting the repairs done has begun,” she said.

A damage survey has been completed, she said. Preliminary work is being done on repair designs that will make the dam meet the high-hazard classification.

A railroad runs across one corner of the lake complex, she said. That means the dam is expected to be classified as high hazard by the state Dam Safety Program. A dam is classified as high hazard if failure of the dam could potentially cause loss of human life, damage to major roads, or more than $200,000 in economic damage.

The dam system at the 93-acre lake was left in need of extensive repair work after Hurricane Matthew roared through the county. Porter presented to the Tribal Council in May a $1 million estimate to repair the dam and associated weir, pipes and dikes.


By T.C. Hunter

[email protected]

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.