North Carolina Towns Still Recovering From Hurricane Matthew Now Have to Deal With Florence

“You’ve got to live somewhere,” she said.

Matthew Peterson, on the other hand, wasn’t taking any chances this time around. He and his family barely managed to escape Lumberton in 2016 after they awoke to find flood water creeping up toward their doors. He fled town with more than a dozen people piled in his pickup, only to find most of the roads blocked by standing water.

Peterson, his wife and their three children spent Thursday morning packing anything they could fit into their vehicles before heading for the state capital in Raleigh, about 100 miles to the north and farther inland. The recurring hurricane annual threat has made Peterson rethink where he lives. 

“If it happens again, I told my wife, ‘We got to go,’” he said. “Just relocate.”

Matthew, a Category 1 storm at landfall, dumped as much as 18 inches of rain in parts of southern North Carolina. Florence could drop as much as 30 or 40 inches on coastal parts of the state, and as much as 20 inches to the area around Fair Bluff and Lumberton.

Jeff Wade moved to Lumberton from Lynchburg, Virginia, in February 2017 to help with Hurricane Matthew recovery. He’s a construction manager for the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church Disaster Response, which is helping to rebuild dozens of homes flooded during Matthew. The work is far from finished.

“I worry that Florence may be more than people can handle,” he said.

The Wades on Thursday were checking in with some of the families whose homes they’ve helped rehabilitate before weathering out the storm in Lumberton themselves.