The beginning of a whole new neighborhood

Lin McKenney, Columbia

July 31, 2009 

I was living in Charleston and working as a nurse at Southern Pines Hospital (don't think it had changed to Charter Rivers, yet?) That evening on 2nd shift we heard the news as warning to evacuate! It was quite shocking to hear this news at 11 p.m. on TV. We began to give PRN medication to help calm patients and try and make arrangements for those who could leave to do so! There was quite a rude awakening of things that needed to be done, immediately!

I know as soon as I left my shift, I stopped at the first gas station to fill up my new Honda, knowing there would be a gas shortage soon. I went home to prepare what to take and what to try and place higher up off the floor. The home I was renting was in Brynes Downs, first real subdivision built near downtown off Hwy.17 and it would flood my streets with just a heavy rain most times. So, I assumed it would most assuredly flood with the hurricane approaching. The items I packed were my photograph albums and some framed pictures that were most valuable to me and not replaceable!

The next morning there were trucks going through on Hwy. 17 telling people to evacuate and the weather was very nice and sunny. I moved my VW to a neighbor’s yard, which I had just cancelled the insurance on and packed my dog and we headed out. The traffic was unbelievable on I-26 heading to Columbia.

I got off on an exit near Summerville, because, it had taken over an hour to get just a few miles. I think it took almost 5 hours to get to Columbia! I came to stay with my family here and most of all to "protect" my new Honda.

That night I listened to the radio as long as I could try to keep tabs on what was happening in Charleston...it didn't sound good! Then, the winds picked up here and my family and I went into our hallway and placed a mattress up near where glass could be flying...Thank God, there was no real damage here in Columbia, just some power outages...but, I was ready to go back home to see what was left of my home. Of course, I called a few friends and ones I was able to talk with said, "be prepared to see the damage, it's not good!" They spoke how frightening it was being there. I went back, immediately, and didn't think to take anything like BATTERIES or FOOD etc...

On the highway back on I-26 it was like a big chainsaw had sawed off the tops of all the trees that were still left in the center of the interstate! I just prayed my home as others were safe and don't remember hearing any radio stations on the air. There were very few cars on the roads and lots and lots of trees, powerlines and mess all in the roads.

It was unreal and nothing prepared me for what I was observing and no stores were opened. It, finally, became REAL, it was such devastation and no power to purchase anything!

Finally, getting near my home there were homes without roofs and trees fallen on top as bricks scattered all over the place. It was scary trying to drive down roads and I turned onto my road. I could see my house and it was safe minus a few shutters and across street bricks had blown off side of a home.

This was just the beginning of a whole new neighborhood and quite an awakening for our "community". I did walk over to my friend's home, where I had left my VW, between two homes...unbelievable trees had fallen all around and shingles blown off roof, but, my VW was safe between the trees all down in the yard! Truly, God was on my side!

I could go on and on of the days as weeks without power, food, and I did get a lot of photos of the destruction in neighborhood, downtown with the boat blown or washed up on highway as the National Guard patrolling...did get to Folly Beach, too, was allowed there because of friend’s family.

-- Lin McKenney, Columbia

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