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CAP Supports Disaster Relief in Lumberton and Robeson County

Lumberton POD team members
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POD team members plan their route from NCWG headquarters to Lumberton, NC. PHOTO CREDIT: Capt Tim Bagnell, CAP (click image to view full size)
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POD team members help from around the Wing and Region

10/18/2016––The NC Wing has been supporting disaster relief efforts in Lumberton and Robeson County since 10 Oct when a group led by Lt Col Paul Steele from the 111th Search and Rescue Squadron in Charlotte arrived on scene. Lt Col Steele was joined by two members of the 19th out of Asheville, Maj Clint Parker and Lt Zackory West, and one member from the 150th out of Orange County, Capt Tim Bagnell. Col Steele and his team laid the groundwork for CAP operations in the area which were concentrated on the Point of Distribution (POD) Central Receiving Distribution Point (CRDP). The CRDP was initially staged at Lumberton Regional airport. However, flooding damage and road obstructions caused it to be relocated to the Lumberton Agricultural Center. Operations at the airport were initially headed up by a local FEMA manager, but as their focus shifted, responsibility for coordinating the movement of supplies was given to Capt Bagnell. Assisted by Lt West (019) and 2d Lt Berger (111), Capt. Bagnell led coordination efforts with the CAP cadets from the 111th, two National guard units (1-120 Bravo Infantry, and the 1132nd Military Police company), FEMA, and other civilian emergency response organizations. He also worked with Airport management to escort and explain the operations to a group of BB&T executives who flew in to examine the flooding situation in person. The new CRDP was relocated near the county Emergency Operations Center. Maj Clint Parker (019) led the CAP personnel assigned there to assist FEMA in the site's operations. Captain Michael Smith of the Asheboro Composite squadron led his cadets in assisting with operations at the Lumberton airport on the first day of their arrival on the 12th and went on to serve as EOC Liaison Officer, ensuring that onsite CAP members were fully utilized by NC Emergency Management and other organizations. Lt Col Steele’s team set-up, streamlined, and manned both CRDPs for three days. Their efforts ensured that much needed food, water, and other supplies were staged and ready to be sent to POD sites throughout the county with minimal delay.

On 13 Oct Maj Michael Willis from Group 5 arrived on scene with eight other members and relieved Col Steele’s team. That team grew to 56 members by 16 Oct. Included in that number are 14 members from VAWG and six from SCWG coming to lend assistance. With a larger team they were able to man six sites and provide much needed relief to the local fire departments and volunteers who had been running the PODs for nearly a week. 
Maj John Payne from VAWG led a group at one of the fire department POD locations that also planned to server a hot meal to the community. Maj Payne worked to ensure maximum participation from CAP to assist in serving the meals. For a large majority of the families served it was the first hot meal they had in a week. The next day Maj Payne began to reach out to a nearby nursing home to provide them with food and water.
Capt Brandon Smith and SM Jeff Roseberry from Iredell Composite Squadron also discovered a nursing home that had been without water and power for a week and were living off a small supply of food and water as they had been unable to send anyone to a POD location due to the flooding that still existed. The residents were very emotional and thankful for Civil Air Patrol for bringing them much needed food, water, and other necessities.
Another bright spot was when a local bakery donated three pallets of different cakes. 1st Lt Shelly Willis spent most of the afternoon on 14 Oct taking them to POD locations and trying to find other locations to deliver these perishable items. One location she found was the USO of North Carolina and the NC National Guard at the Lumberton Airport. Initially the USO was not sure what they would do with so many cakes but the National Guard quickly found a use for one of them. They had encountered a young girl that just had her twelfth birthday but because of the storm didn’t even have a cake or present. The Guardsmen put one of the cakes to good use and with the help of the USO and local merchants procured candles and gifts to give her a party.
These are just but a few of the highlights from one week of relief efforts. On 16 Oct, 1st Lt Kate Maxfield took over leadership of CAP’s efforts in Robeson County. While support for the county as a whole started winding down at that time, the need for assistance in the city of Lumberton started to ramp up as the majority of the flood waters finally started to recede.
The citizens of Robeson County as well as their leadership has expressed their gratitude and appreciation countless times to CAP. All of the Senior Members and cadets who were able to answer the call have represented CAP very well. This is just another example of how Civil Air Patrol helps the community, even when that community may even be in a different state. The teams from SCWG and VAWG drove from a great distance, more than normal thanks to the flooding and road closures, to help even though they were not able to stay very long. This just highlight’s the selfless nature of the individuals involved. Through everyone’s efforts, hundreds of people each day were able to get food, water, and the basic necessities of life. Without CAP’s involvement, this would not have happened as there simply was not enough manpower to take care of the need.
A very special thank you from the Lumberton CAP team to Mercy Chefs ( for providing great hot meals every day and to UNC-Pembroke for providing a place to sleep and shower.