Betty Skeen stuffed towels beside her doors, trying to dam the flood.
She tried sweeping out the water, but it continued to pour in.
When she realized her efforts were futile, the Little River retiree placed two photo albums in her bedroom, out of the water’s reach, and left. A firefighter carried out her nervous border collie, Sara Su.
“Never seen anything like it,” she said Saturday morning as she walked through her damaged home on Copenhagen Drive. The water marks on her wall were about two feet above her kitchen floor. “I didn’t imagine it until 5 o’clock yesterday.”
Steady, driving rain forced some Grand Strand residents to evacuate their homes Friday night. The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at the First Baptist Church of North Myrtle Beach and four people stayed there overnight.
“A lot of people have family other places,” said Marie Ferrell, a Red Cross volunteer working at the shelter. “So rather than coming to a shelter, they go with family.”
My house flooded. Six inches of water everywhere. Bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom. ... I was on the couch watching a football game. All of a sudden a knock comes at the door, water’s piling up in the house. ... I opened the door and some guy popped in and said, “You guys have to leave.’ So here we are.”
resident Jay McMullen
Jay McMullen didn’t have a choice.
“My house flooded,” the 92-year-old said in between bites of a sausage biscuit at the shelter. “Six inches of water everywhere. Bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom. ... I was on the couch watching a football game. All of a sudden a knock comes at the door, water’s piling up in the house. ... I opened the door and some guy popped in and said, “You guys have to leave.’ So here we are.”
Kenny Manier, 34, recently moved back to the area.
“I get off the bus and the storm hit,” he said as he smoked outside the shelter.
A California native, Manier said he’s lived in Denver and Las Vegas. He had planned to stay in a motel, but with no money he’d found a dry spot at Wal-Mart just as the rain got heavy. A woman saw him and brought him to the shelter.
He said he’s looking for a more permanent place where he can stay with his wife and 14-year-old son.
The family lived here once before and that’s why they returned
“We were the happiest here,” he said. “(But) we knew the weather could get bad.”
In the five years Greg Gusler has lived on Copenhagen Drive, he’s never witnessed flooding like he did this weekend.
“I’ve never seen that pond up there get over that bank,” he said as he sloshed down his street in rain boots. “It was probably almost four feet deep down here.”
Gusler’s home was spared, but his neighbors weren’t so fortunate.
Skeen trudged through her muddy home, pointing out the soggy carpet and the crumbling plaster.
A Little River native, she left Horry County for Fort Mill decades ago. For 27 years, she ran the welcome center on Interstate 77.
She returned to her roots seven years ago.
“It was the retirement house,” she said of her soaked home. “We’ll fix it back.”
Skeen is staying with her sister in North Myrtle Beach while she gets back on her feet. Despite all she’s lost, she remains grateful for what survived the flood.
“I’ll be OK,” she said. “I’ve got Sara Su. She was surely a good one last night.”
Flood safety tips
During a flood
▪ Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. A national compaign advises “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”
▪ Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and two feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
▪ If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the No. 1 cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.
▪ If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
▪ Practice electrical safety. Don't go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises, get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it.
▪ Obey evacuation orders. If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Be sure to lock your home as you leave. If you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances.
After a flood
▪ Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
▪ Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Even if the roadway of a bridge or elevated highway looks normal, the support structures below may be damaged.
▪ Stay clear of downed power lines and report them to your power company.
▪ Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly to foundations. Stay out of any building that is surrounded by floodwaters.
▪ Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and other harmful chemicals.
Source: ready.gov, Columbia Fire Department
Columbia streets that frequently flood
Main and Whaley; Gervais and Laurens; Blossom and Henderson; Blossom and Saluda; Harden and Santee; Monroe and Maple; Two Notch and Read; Wheat and Amherst; Adger and Devine; Wheat and Sumter; Wheat and Pickens; Heyward and Ravenel; Pickens between Wheat and Green; Barnwell and Pendelton; Harden and Read; Harden and Calhoun; Franklin and Marion; Franklin and Sumter; Columbia College and N. Main; Bull and Laurel
Source: City of Columbia