PEMBROKE — The dam system at the Lumbee Cultural Center still is in need of extensive repairs seven months after Hurricane Matthew swept through Robeson County.
An evaluation of the dam system by Federal Emergency Management Agency staff revealed that repairs will cost $1 million, Tribal Administrator Freda Porter said. The system includes the dam and associated weir, pipes and dikes that surround the more than 200-acre lake that is a major part of the cultural center property located just outside Pembroke.
“The dam, weir, pipes and dike system that runs all the way around that body of water needs restoration and stabilization,” Porter said. “When we say the estimate to do the repairs is $1 million, we are not just talking about the dam. We are talking about the whole system which runs around the lake.”
Damage caused by flooding that engulfed the cultural center property in the aftermath of the Oct. 8 storm still is clearly visible. Soil erosion is evident at several locations along the upstream slope’s concrete apron along Terry Sanford Drive. Some of the holes beneath the slaps as much as a foot deep.
There also is significant surface erosion along the downstream slope, Porter said.
“We don’t know if water is draining out of the lake,” Porter said. “But right now, the lake is lower than it should be.”
The dam system probably was installed sometime in the 1960s, Porter said.
“We don’t know for sure how old the system is because there are no state records of when the dam system was put in,” she said.
The tribe already has received $47,000 from FEMA to fund the hiring of an engineer to assess damage to the dam system, Porter said. The engineer also will determine what repairs need to be made. Afterward, bids will be solicited from businesses interested in doing the repair work.
General cleanup of the 389 acres encompassing the Cultural Center property continues. Several large damaged trees are slated to be cut down and removed as soon as possible.
The cultural center has a rich history among the Lumbee. It used to be the site of an amphitheater at which the play “Strike at the Wind!”, which told the story of Lumbee folk hero Henry Berry Lowry, was performed. It also was home to Riverside Golf Course, which for many years was the only golf course that welcome American Indian.
The Lumbee tribe in recent years has been working to restore the property to put to use for its members.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.