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Hurricane Florence flooding in North Carolina concerns Lumbee Indian tribe in Baltimore

Days after Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, drone footage shows much of Lumberton submerged in rust-colored water. It’s a particularly horrifying sight to many in Baltimore’s Lumbee Indian community.

“We’re all upset, we’re all worried about family,” said Rosie Bowen, who owns Rose’s Bakery in Northeast Market. “For a lot of Lumbees here in Baltimore, that is their home.”

Bowen’s father was one of thousands of Lumbee who migrated here for work after WWII. But many retain close ties to their roots. Bowen drives to Lumberton to get many of the ingredients for the treats she sells at her bakery — including sweet potatoes to make bread and pies in the fall. She even owns a house in North Carolina, in a neighborhood hit hard by flooding.

The area also saw flooding two years ago after Hurricane Matthew, and many had homes destroyed in that storm. “And knowing that so many of them kind of got their lives rebuilt from the first storm. …. it’s a bad situation,” she said.

With more than 70,000 members, the Lumbee are the largest American Indian tribe east of the Mississippi River. Today they live primarily in and around Lumberton, along North Carolina's Lumber River, in the southeast section of the state.

The area is largely inaccessible now, she says, with Interstate 95 largely shut down in North Carolina, and it’s difficult to get there by car unless you’re an emergency responder. “I would go there now but I couldn’t even begin to get in,” she said.

Bowen says an evacuation order was issued, but not everyone obeyed. “People down there, they don’t want to leave their homes,” she said. “They’re pretty headstrong. They’re gonna stay and tough it out as long as they can until they can’t do any better.”

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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