Governor needs helping hands for Matthew rebuild

By: By Bob Shiles -

LUMBERTON — Gov. Roy Cooper will be in Lumberton on Saturday to work hand-in-hand with volunteers to repair homes damaged last year when Hurricane Matthew blew through Robeson County on Oct. 8.

And he need some help.

“Almost a year after Hurricane Matthew, people are still trying to recover and get back into their homes,” Stephanie Chavis, Robeson County’s Emergency Services director, told the county’s Board of Commissioners on Monday. “Gov. Roy Cooper encourages all North Carolinian’s to join together for a volunteer day of service.”

Saturday is being billed as “Rebuild NC Day of Service.” While the governor will be working in Lumberton, his cabinet secretaries will be joining volunteers in repairing damaged homes in Princeville, Kinston, Goldsboro and Fayetteville. The hope is that hundreds of volunteers will come come out and help at these hardest hurricane areas of the state.

“We are asking Robeson County residents to come out this Saturday, Oct. 7, from 9 .m. to 3 p.m. to help those communities who are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew,” Chavis told commissioners. “Volunteers in our county will be assisting the N.C. Baptist Men Disaster Relief group to continue with cleanup and rebuilding”.

Chavis said the majority of work will be in areas of construction, such as replacing Sheetrock, floors, doors and cabinets. There will be some roofing, plumbing, HVAC and electrical work available, said Chavis.

According to Chavis, volunteers should meet at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at 141 Avent Road, just off Starlite Drive in Lumberton. Volunteers should bring hand tools, such as hammers and battery powered screwdrivers. They should also bring gloves, dust masks and safety glasses, Chavis said.

In other business, the commissioners heard an update on the Beaver Management Assistance Program from Bo Benton, a wildlife specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who told commissioners he has been busy as … well, you know.

“It has been a long year,” Benton told the commissioners. “Since the storm (Hurricane Matthew) we’ve been really busy. I’ve been all over the county.”

Benton said that since the hurricane people have become more concerned about water standing on their property.

“They don’t want more water issues and beavers mean problems,” he said.

Benton cited several statistics about the Beaver Management Assistance Program for the past year that he said might change slightly. The federal government’s fiscal year for 2017-18 began on Oct. 1.

According to Benton, in the past year he has performed 89 jobs, removing 190 dams and 240 beavers. He said that Beaver Management Assistance Program activities have prevented losses of $187,911 in timber resources; $220 in crops and agriculture; $228,100 to roadways and bridges; $53,500 to irrigation systems and drainage ditches; and $3,200 in other resources.

The commissioners on Monday also:

— Granted South East Area Transit System the authority to submit on behalf of the county an application to the N.C. Department of Transportation for funds available through the Community Transportation Program. The program provides assistance to coordinate existing transportation programs operating in Robeson County as well as provides transportation options and services for communities within the service area.

The request to file the application was made by Sharon Robinson, director of SEATS.

The county is requesting a total of $722,568 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018, and ending June 30, 2019. The county’s share of these funds is $91,571.

— Approved renewal of the contract agreement between Jail Health Services and Dr. Theresa Bullard.

— Appointed Edward Henderson of Red Springs to serve on the Robeson County Board of Health, and re-appointed Dr. Courtney Parker and Tim Ferguson II to serve on the board. All three appointments become effective Jan. 1.

Stephanie Chavis Chavis

Bo Benton Benton

Sharon Robinson Robinson

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.