Robeson County gets $3.5 million grant for storm recovery, school repairs

Robeson County Schools officials hope to use a portion of a $3.5 million grant for Hurricane Matthew recovery on the way to Robeson County to replace the district's central office, flooded beyond repair in the floods of Hurricane Matthew.

PEMBROKE, NC (WBTW) – A $3.5 million grant for Hurricane Matthew recovery is on the way to Robeson County, most of which will go to the school district.

“The flooding and everything that came through, that’s the most that I ever remember having,” said District Five school board member Craig Lowry.

Lowry said he’s faced challenges in his more than three decades with Robeson County schools, but his current role on the school board’s construction committee is the hardest and most important of his career.

“Trying to decide where we’re going with all the different things that we would be doing,” explained Lowry.

Thursday, the job got  just a little easier. The North Carolina General Assembly–working through the non-profit Golden Leaf Foundation–awarded that $3.5 million grant, setting aside $2.7 million for county schools.

The biggest part of the Golden Leaf grant is that it allows the district to meet its deductible, and replace buildings like the Knuckles Elementary, the district office and West Lumberton Elementary–empty since days before the storm.

“There was a million-dollar deductible that was covered with this grant,” explained Lowry. “So that was very beneficial.”

Lowry said even though $2.7 million will do a lot to help, it likely won’t cover all the recovery costs.

“Obviously we have to have a central office, and we had two schools that were severely damaged,” he said.

Lowry said much of this grant will go toward repairs at the district’s transportation center and warehouse, as officials continue to work toward a full recovery plan.

“We still have a long way to go as far as getting everything we need to tty and rebuild and get back to exactly where we were at or beyond,” Lowry said.