On the South Carolina Flooding: As My City Recovers, My Heart Mends

south carolina flooding

The worst part is the Google searching for the names of those who died.

Whenever I don’t know what to do, when my anxiety, depression and obsessive worry get to me, my answer is to write. Usually alternating between that, deep breathing and prayer. But even me, one of the wordiest people I know, couldn’t find the words to say about the flooding in the Southeast, particularly my home city of Columbia, SC, where I spent more than 30 years.

Now that I’ve started typing, I’ve found the brain space for it.

So each time I hear about another fatality, I cringe and check the list. Just to be sure. Columbia’s always been a “little big town,” so there’s a good possibility that I or someone I know has been affected.

I posted on Facebook how eerie it is to watch your city on national television and recognizing places you’ve eaten, streets you’ve driven on countless times, neighborhoods you’re familiar with – all being washed away. Social media has been a godsend, as I’ve been able to check on the Facebook pages of friends and businesses to see how they fared.

As of this posting, my parents and most of my friends are still having to boil water, if they have water at all. Others have evacuated and are anticipating returning to flood-ravaged homes and no flood insurance, which could be a blog all on its own. A bright glimmer is seeing people organize in local Facebook groups on how to volunteer and send donations.

Then the damage photos from other areas I love are popping up: Myrtle Beach, Charleston, parts of the Upstate and North Carolina. All of them reeling from this disaster of epic proportions.

I want to reach out and hug every single person. I want to drive my car up there right now and do something…anything.

But for now, with the unbelievable structural damage and unknowns about the structural integrity of roads and bridges, I’m stuck. I have to wait. All I can do is watch, spread news and info when I can, check on my parents periodically and make feeble attempts to comfort others on Facebook.

I’ve never been one of those people who say, “I didn’t think it could happen here.” We’ve faced devastating weather in the midlands of South Carolina thanks to being on the coast and getting pummeled by hurricanes and other tropical weather.

But this is different. The damage is so widespread, so consuming. Seeing the brownish-white water filling up in front of one of my favorite restaurants…I suppose I should be thankful this wasn’t a tornado outbreak. There could simply be empty lots there instead of flooded businesses.

So, for now, I will focus on assistance and gratitude. My family and close friends are safe and dry and didn’t sustain much damage, even when surrounded by water-swollen roads. As of right now, they are stuck at home and have to boil water, but I’m happy with those inconveniences.

I will continue to pray and keep watch over those who have been hit. I’ve already seen acquaintances and high school classmates who have sent video and pictures of their damaged homes and neighborhoods, the roads crumbled as though it had taken a direct hit from Thor’s hammer.

When the roadways are safe, I’ll return to my beloved city and do whatever I can to help repair and rebuild. But for now, my heart is under reconstruction.

If you’d like to volunteer or donate, shoot me an email at williesha@myfreelancelife.com

I can put you in direct contact with an organization or individual in need of your items or skills.


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