Robeson couple moves into new home 29 months after Matthew flooded old one

March 5, 2019

A Robeson County couple moved into a new home Monday, almost two and a half years after Hurricane Matthew damaged their old home beyond repair.

“The water just splashed in the house, but all underneath the house got wet, and that’s what our damage was,” Roberta West said of flooding from Matthew. “Since the hurricane, I’ve had pneumonia three times.”

The Wests had no flood insurance and couldn’t afford to fix their home of 16 years, so they had to live with the damage.

“Since Hurricane Matthew, our heater didn’t work in the wintertime. The air conditioning didn’t work right in the summertime because everything got flooded,” she said.

“It almost devastated us,” Robert West said. “Honestly. it was hard, and we really pulled together, and during that time, I lost a son and a father, and I mean, it was, like, snowballing.”

The family was initially denied assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, so about a year ago, they applied to ReBuild NC, a state clearinghouse for hurricane recovery efforts, and were accepted into a rebuilding program.

DSW Homes out of Texas came to St. Pauls about two weeks ago, tore down the old home and built a new one on the site – elevating it to help keep any future floodwaters out.

“Everything is windstorm-certified, so it’ll withstand probably 165-mph winds,” said Steve Mataro of DSW Homes. “So, it’s built to the highest standards of construction that you can get.”

ReBuild NC is processing about 900 applications to have homes rehabbed, reconstructed or replaced. The Wests’ house is the first site-built home in the state under the program.

Robert West said he and his wife like their new kitchen the best.

“We were really confined, and we had an older house, and it’s just so spacious in there, you know. It’s nice,” he said.