NC county working to get kids back in school following Matthew

LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Around 24,000 students in Robeson County have been out of school for nearly two weeks due to Hurricane Matthew.

School officials and crews have been working nonstop to clean up the mess Matthew left behind.

It’s a task that’s easier said than done.

Robeson County was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew and much of the county was under water for more than a week following the storm that brought heavy rains and caused massive flooding in parts of central and eastern North Carolina.

Lumberton was one of the hardest hit towns in the state.

One school in Lumberton, West Lumberton Elementary, sustained the worst flood damage out of the county’s 42 schools. Two to three feet of flood water entered the building.

“It’s like living in a nightmare,” said Tara Bullard, principal West Lumberton Elementary.

The water flooded into many of the school’s classrooms and bathrooms. Those rooms have now been condemned and are unusable.

The water also destroyed computer equipment. A wheelbarrow full of keyboards, speakers, headphones and other accessories could be seen inside the elementary school.

“There was no way for us to prepare or to know that something like this would happen to our school,” Bullard said.

Bullard and cleanup crews have been working 12-hour shifts to gut the building.

The school’s gym room has now been converted into a salvage area.

“This is just devastating for us. This is just devastating,” Bullard said.

She said remodeling will take several months as mold is a huge concern.

The school system is working on plans to get students back in the classroom as soon as possible.

It is unknown when school will start back.