Storm issues the primary topic of city’s Town Hall

By: Katelin Gandee - Staff writer

LAURINBURG — More than 30 people came out to the A.B. Gibson Center Thursday for the District One Town Hall put on by the Laurinburg City Council.

While the idea was primarily to serve as a forum to listen to residents about what they wanted to see changed or what the residents thought the city was doing well at, it soon turned to concerns about such things as hurricane recovery and mosquitoes.

Though the meeting was primarily for residents in District One, residents from District Two as well as some out in the county attended and were able to voice their concerns.

All council members, except Andrew Williamson who was attending a funeral, along with Mayor Matthew Block were in attendance to answer questions from the residents. The concerns ranged from the infestation of mosquito’s and flooding to better communication during a disaster and more beautification on the north side of town.

The primary concern voiced at the meeting was about those who have been displaced due to damage to their homes in the storm and about the flooding that happens on the north side of town primarily around Isabelle Street.

There are families in Plaza Terrace and McIntosh Apartments that have been displaced after flood waters left their homes unsafe, as well as those who live in homes around the community.

One resident questioned if the city would be able to take some empty buildings and place those in need in there, but it was explained that, since they were privately owned, they wouldn’t be able to do that — but if they knew someone who wanted to open a building to go to the Red Cross and see what needed to be done.

Adams, along with Pastor Michael Edds, offered some numbers for organizations who are helping out as well those who are working to place people.

With the flooding, Don Rainer, who has come to several City Council meetings, including the most recent, repeated his request for something to be done about the drains around Isabelle Street where he lives.

Rainer stated that the area floods from a normal rain so it was in bad shape when the hurricane hit. Several other residents of that area were also in the crowd and asked what the city was going to do about it.

Michelle Ellerbe told the council that it wasn’t just a hurricane problem, but an infrastructure problem.

“Why was it that all of the damage from the hurricane only in a certain part of the city,” Ellerbe said. “Just being from the outside looking in, it seems like it was an infrastructure issue, not Hurricane Florence. You can’t blame it on the storm, I’m looking at Laurinburg and Scotland County and why it takes so long for this storm to have to uncover our ugliness.”

Ellerbe questioned why not many people on one side of Walmart got flooded while those on the other side lost homes and were fighting to survive. She also brought up the topic of the new city hall and questioned why workers were out working on the building while people were struggling and asked why the city wasn’t being sensitive to the needs of the residents.

Block, who was running the meeting, explained that the city was in fact working on it and had been before the storm hit. At the August meeting engineer, Chuck Willis out of Charlotte had come to present the findings of his study of the area with different ways to address the issues. The first thing would be ranking the streets that need to be fixed which is currently being done by Public Utilities Director Stacey McQuage.

In all the residents agreed that they enjoyed the meeting and one questioned when a meeting for District Two would be held. Everything talked about at the meeting will be brought up at the council’s next meeting on Oct. 16.

Katelin Gandee

Staff writer

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]