This past weekend in much of South Carolina, we experienced what is being called a Once in a 1,000 Year flood event. Through a perfect storm of meteorological events, moisture bands from a hurricane trapped by a low pressure system pounded the coastal area and then the midlands of the Palmetto State with never before seen amounts of rain. Areas of the state received in just 4 days up to 15 – 25 inches of rain. The weather experts say that was 4-6 months of rain in a matter of days.
The destruction seen across parts of South Carolina is heart-breaking. Areas that should never flood were wiped out because of the deluge overflowing retention ponds, tidal creeks, dams, and rivers. The waters literally had nowhere to go, and homes and businesses were flooded. Roadways all over the state were damaged, bridges washed away. Twelve people, thus far, have lost their lives. Possessions ruined, families displaced, life turned upside down.
I know many are wondering, “where do I go from here? I’ve lost everything.”
For a moment today, I said to my husband, “I can’t even imagine what those families are going through.” And then I stopped. And I remembered. I’ve been where those people are. It’s been so long, I almost forgot that sense of helplessness.
See, after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 tore through this same area of the state leaving twisted trees and broken homes and utter destruction in its wake, my family found ourselves with a home no longer in one piece and unable to be repaired. We salvaged belongings and we wondered what would come next.
Since I was only 13 at the time, I don’t think I’ve ever thought of the magnitude of the situation from an adult perspective. What would I do now if my family had lost everything this weekend? Fear, uncertainty, questions of how to provide physically and emotionally for my children, ripped from their sense of safety. I’d probably be a basket case, anxiety breathing down my neck.
Yet looking back, after Hugo my parents never let me see them sweat. I can imagine what their intimate conversations must have been like. Where will we go? How long will life stay unsettled? How are we going to start from scratch and rebuild? Where will the money come from? Why, oh why, did this happen to us? I’m sure those conversations must have happened, but in front of me, they were cool and calm.
We were fortunate back then. For four months, we lived with our closest family friends. They invited us into their home until we could pick up the pieces of our shattered world. Literally, they were our shelter in the storm. Despite losing almost everything, I look back and those were some of the best four months of my life growing up as our two little families integrated into one.
I know so many people right now are scared and upset and confused and looking at a future full of unknowns because of this great flood event. The destruction and loss can seem overwhelming. Don’t be gripped by fear. My parents had lost everything. Our family had to start anew with a few boxes of belongings and nothing else. We pulled together, and with a little help from our friends and God’s provisions and the good folks at FEMA, we made it through to the other side.
When you’ve lost everything, hold on to each other. Hold on to the ones you love. Hold on to hope… Stay strong. You’ll make it through!