Sarah’s Snippets 10/6/2015
“Déjà vu all over again.” I am reminded of this tongue in cheek saying today. It is Saturday, October 3rd and I am on vacation in an RV near Charleston, SC. The area is experiencing a torrential rain storm of “historic proportion” and it is pouring outside. It has been pouring for close to 24 hours and the news says that there has already been 8 inches of rain. The storm is stalled and supposed to last at least another 24 hours. However this campground doesn’t flood, we are told. Indeed, looking outside the roadways do have some standing puddles, but nothing like we would see at home following this much rain in 24 hours. Luckily, we are dry, warm, and have electricity, so waiting out the storm should be no problem.
Yet, I can’t help but feel a strong sense of unease. When we listen to the news, it doesn’t mean as much to us as we don’t have the same reference points as we do at home. However the city of Charleston is closed off with lots of flooding. Flooding is being reported up and down the coast. Many roads are closed. Essentially, we are trapped and can’t leave.
It is now Sunday morning. The rain total here is up to 18”. Felt unsteady during the night as the rain came down so hard it sounded like a train thundering through for hours. But the rain is now heading north, in the Myrtle Beach area. The rain stopped temporarily so went out for a walk around the area. Observed egrets and pelicans cruising, fish feeding in the shallows of the swollen lake on the premises, and the few campers left here outside getting a breath of fresh air while they can. There is still a sense of anxious anticipation, though, as this is supposed to be the lull before more rain. No one is allowed on the roads except emergency vehicles.
It is now Monday morning and the rain has subsided temporarily. We are at a total of 24+ inches here, although the area is draining. Roads are still impassible. But the rains went inland yesterday and overnight, hitting the capitol of Columbia hard. They have a convergence of rivers coming out of the mountains as well as a convergence of interstate highways. FEMA, state EMO, state troopers, numerous first responders, National Guard, all on site. My niece and her young family live there and are OK for the moment. This is too real, feels too familiar. This event is affecting so many more people than Irene did in our area. Most of the state of South Carolina is affected.
Ironically, it was only a few weeks ago that we recognized the fourth anniversary of the floods caused by Irene and Lee. Yet here I am in the middle of flooding and all the anxiety it can produce. I am reminded of the fears and anxieties many of us felt in 2011. I am reminded of the roadways that looked like rivers and the fields that looked like lakes. I am reminded of the damaged houses and abandoned vehicles. I am reminded of the piles of belongings street side and the individuals leaving town with their salvageable possessions in garbage bags. Mostly I am reminded of the feelings of despair and hopelessness in the early hours as people found their way back to damaged homes and businesses.
So much has happened since those early days, weeks, and months following Irene. Gratefully, those early feelings of horror and helplessness quickly morphed into determination to recover. People stepped forward at all levels to serve the people of our Schoharie Creek basin. Their service combined with the strength of the residents, has created the extraordinary recovery we have experienced. In fact we are well into recovery, we are on our way to renewal.
I am told that the area I am in today, the “Carolina low-county”, is accustomed to coastal flooding. After all, they are exposed to hurricanes and tropical storms on a regular basis. But this is a huge challenge, unlike any they have seen in the past. My wish for the people here is that they will have the advantage of hearts and hands as generous as those that served the Schoharie Valley.