PEMBROKE, NC (WBTW) – Robeson County School Board members met Tuesday evening at UNC-Pembroke, still away from their storm-damaged district office.
“I know it’s just been October the 8th, but we need to get the ball rolling on this,” said Dwayne Smith.
The Precinct 8 board member joins the rest of Robeson County in being ready to get students back in classrooms of their own.
“At least be able to get out of the flood zone, where you can see that we were hit pretty hard in those areas,” said Smith.
The board previously hired an outside consultant to help them apply for FEMA aid, and get damaged buildings like West Lumberton and Knuckles Elementary–plus the district office–rebuilt or replaced. Tuesday night Billy Owens, a grants manager with NC Emergency Management, let the board know they didn’t need to look outside for help.
“We’ve hired someone to come in and actually help with that process at no additional cost to the applicant,” Owens explained.
He said the state already set aside funds to make sure the Robeson County School District can get back on its feet.
“We just felt that it would be a great opportunity to bring someone in to help out in these areas that don’t necessarily have a lot of funding,” said Owens.
Owens and a consultant will help district officials fill out all the paperwork necessary to complete FEMA filing, to speed the allocation of funds and support to rebuild.
“We’re here to help them get back to some type of normalcy,” Owens said. “I know we have kids displaced in other schools, we wanna put them back together.”
The board agreed that it makes more sense to use the free help offered by the state than to spend its own money.
“We appreciate the state coming in and accepting the challenge to try to work with us,” Smith said.