Many in Robeson County still await help from FEMA


The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is approaching on Thursday. This can be a long and frustrating process, but one family in Robeson County said they've been waiting for help since Matthew hit them two years ago, and they're simply running out of options.

Most who live in Robeson County know the cliché well: when it rains, it pours. The problem is actually much worse, though. When it rains there, it floods.

Like any flood, the water from Hurricane Florence eventually receded, but for families like the Huggings in the Orrum Community, the troubles stayed put.

"Everything in here is just tore up," Tommy Huggings said, his finger pointing to what was once a kitchen sink, now just torn and tattered wood and water damaged counter-top.

Huggings took ABC 15 cameras on a tour of what was, until just this week, home for him and his six kids.

"There was so much water in here that there were frogs in here," he recalled.

Huggings said he's been dealing with these issues since 2016, when Hurricane Matthew blew through Robeson County. Two years and several storms later, he said it seems help is no closer to knocking on his door.

"I applied for a loan," he said, scoffing. "Every time I apply for a loan they deny me."

Robeson was one of 18 North Carolina counties for whom President Trump approved federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Florence. The money is supposed to go toward housing grants for home repairs and loans to cover property loss. Huggings said he's flooded the federal agency with calls and applications, and heard a "no" every single time.

"Every time I apply, they tell me the house is livable and it can be fixed," Huggings explained. Not so, he said, for a dad on disability with six young mouths to feed.

"I ain't got nowhere to go," he said, dejected. "I'm basically homeless."

RELATED: Robeson County volunteers hit major snag in opening long term shelter for flood victims

That was, until this week, when the National Association of Christian Churches, an organization that has been out helping on the ground since Hurricane Florence first hit, was able to put the family up in a motel. That gets the family out of a dangerous living situation, as you can still hear the water leaking heavily beneath the home where Huggings has lived most of his life.

"My mama died right in that next room," Huggings said, pointing. His voice soon cracked as tears started to fall.

When it rains in Robeson, it floods. It has been a flood of emotions for this family, as Tommy Huggings tries desperately to hold onto his health, his heart and his home.

To assist the National Association of Christian Churches in their outreach to Robeson County storm victims, contact them at (910)-544-8339. They have a list of items they need to help those families they will update you on as well.

Some items include:

  • Sheet rock
  • Doors
  • Two by fours
  • Electrical wiring
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Beds
  • Sheets
  • Towels
  • Comforters
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