How would you react to your street filling up with water....very quickly.
Would you know what to do as the flood waters moved closer to your front door?
Would you be thinking of how you are going to get to work as damns and bridges begin to give way?
What would your thoughts be to see the road you took your children to school on after it had become a river?
These, and a lot of other questions are being addressed in the wake of the flooding in the Columbia South Carolina Area. Literally dozens of roads have been washed away or closed, many damns have been breached, and the mighty flood gates of the Lake Murray Damn have been opened to attempt to manage the inundated low country.
In the early part of October, torrential rains fell quickly. People found that they had to move quickly to either protect their homes, or evacuate. Many lost homes, some lost their livelihood. So what did the good people of South Carolina do? They jumped in and began to work.
Volunteers began to gather needed items for those who had been displaced.
A command center was placed in one of the effected neighborhoods.
Volunteers from several denominations and businesses began to arrive. Initially they were from the local area, but within days people from other states began to arrive to assist in the clean up.
The Media came and went.
But the volunteers kept coming, the supplies keep coming, and the folks keep moving forward. There is no rioting or angry protests. Instead, there is calm, gracious service. There is care and concern and willingness to help at a moments notice.
A friend and resident of the area wrote a very beautiful summary of how things currently are. My thanks to Janie S for her eloquence:
News From the Flood Front
Well, all the national media have taken their super star announcers and their bright lights and cameras and gone home. Moving on to the next story. And here in South Carolina, we carry on, with neighbors helping neighbors. Here’s what’s going on in my part of the world:
Everywhere you see work trucks and workmen from all over the southeast, fixing our roads and bridges, keeping us from traveling on unsafe travel routes. Me, when stopped yet again by another new roadblock: “If this road is closed, can I go that way?” Answer: “Ma’am, I don’t know. I’m from Tennessee.”
I drive through previously beautiful , prosperous neighborhoods, and see houses cleaned out to the studs, daylight visible from one side through to the others. And the owners precious belongs (pictures, rocking chairs, books, china cabinets) all piled on the side of the road in a huge, broken mass as giant trucks with huge claws scrape up the debris, crush it and dump it into the waiting maw of the truck.
I’ve volunteered in a neighborhood disaster relief center, set up on a street corner by a lawyer who felt she needed to do something. It has grown into a vital hub of the relief effort, staffed by volunteers from all walks of life, serviced with meals from all sorts of organizations, and offering food, clothing, cleaning supplies and tools to whoever needs them.
I spent the afternoon today in a small trailer in Eastover SC, packing up the entire insides of this home. FEMA said the entire floor and duct work had to be ripped out and replaced because the water had lapped the bottom of the trailer and mold was starting to grow. Mold is the enemy here in SC. And other friends will be there tomorrow to do the ripping out.
Over 400 roads and more than 150 bridges were washed out during the 20+ inches of rain in two days. Interstates were closed, dams failed, homes and businesses were washed away or flooded to the roof, and 19 people lost their lives. Lost lives can never be replaced. About half of the roads and bridges have been repaired, with a target date of after Thanksgiving for the majority remaining. There are detours everywhere, and it takes twice as long to get anywhere. Rush hour traffic is a nightmare.
School in Richland One is on a one-hour delay for the foreseeable future, as it takes so long for the buses to navigate the winding, circuitous routes they must now take, avoiding closed roads.
The boil water advisory has finally been lifted. The dam above the canal that supplied water to most of Columbia was breached, and it took almost two weeks to repair it. Some wells in outlying areas are still compromised.
And so much, much more that I have not mentioned – the churches, the civic groups, the individuals, the companies – all just pitching in and working together, with no thought of recognition or reward.
Everyone is helping everyone. I really have not heard much complaining. We are just getting through this. No looting to speak of, no anti-government tirades. Just facing forward, looking for that tired, weary, “I don’t know what to do now” face in the crowd and offering a helping hand in whatever way is needed. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 12:40
South Carolina knows how to serve their neighbor. It is our tremendous opportunity to observe, learn and apply their powerful lesson. Please take note....class is in session.
(For the next few posts, I will share with you the things that are going 'right' in this Flood Relief effort. I hope you will share the ride with me. I am so thankful to these good folks for letting me observe and see their goodness in the face of great trial).