Strength In Adversity

Lauren Owens, Staff Writer

I never realized how destructive natural disasters truly are.

I have never lived through a natural disaster until the October flood happened.

My grandparents and parents told me stories about how they were without power for three weeks when hurricane Hugo hit. I would also watch the evening news and see the destruction tsunamis, earthquakes and sinkholes would cause in other parts of the world, but they were just stories to me. I did not have the personal experience of living through any natural disasters.

When the rains began in the end of September and people began to panic, I was clueless about the magnitude of the storms surrounding the state. News reports were telling the public that over a foot of rain was expected to fall over the course of one weekend. Yet, somehow the idea of destruction did not sink in until I was in the middle of the chaos.

People from my hometown of Johnsonville were evacuated from their homes. Old River Road, the most direct route between Johnsonville and Florence, was completely washed away in two locations.

Lynches River rose further than anyone in the area has ever seen. One Johnsonville residential community, The Neck, was completely under water. National Guardsmen and emergency rescue workers spent days taking boats into the community to bring people out of their ooded homes.

After the initial damage of the flood, we witnessed civilians across the state take action to help those that were affected by the flood.

In Johnsonville, there was a distribution center hosted at Johnsonville First Baptist Church. Supplies were donated by the truckload. People from across the community were helping to organize the shelter and give victims the supplies they needed.

In less than a week, Johnsonville First Baptist had received a multitude of support in their efforts to reach out to the flood victims.

While I was at volunteering, there was one woman who was coming to get clothes for her children. For the entire time she was there, her smile never left her face. I was folding and organizing the children’s clothes, and she proceeded to thank me multiple times for our generosity.

Seeing how people in Johnsonville interacted with each other inspired me. Growing up, I was never really fond of living in a small town community, but through witnessing the unity in the midst of a natural disaster, I see how much small towns have going for them.

Even though the ood caused statewide damage and hundreds of displaced individuals, the ood showed how strong South Carolinians truly are. People of every ethnicity, age, gender and social status came out to support victims.

While a month has passed since the storm took place, there are still many people without homes in the process of rebuilding. The work for the state is not  over. We must continue to rally together to help out those who are without homes.