Diary from a 1,000 year flood–after the rain

TUESDAY, OCT. 6

The sun is finally showing his face. At least some area residents can find relief from the receding flood waters.

A meteorologist at a local news station is overcome with emotion. It’s a pretty good reflection of what a lot of locals are feeling.

It’s hard to believe others living along small lakes are still facing threats of dam breaches.

We get news that our friends’ home was completely flooded. They’ve lost everything except a few things they could salvage.

Chris is heading back to work today. I need to catch up on work and a few errands.

The bridges in and out of the city are all open. Officials have opened the Gervais St. bridge to one lane of traffic going each way. The bridge is closed to pedestrians.

I can’t get close enough to the disaster at this point to find a way to believe it. And I’m not abusing press credentials to get close to a story I have no intention of covering.

I think I finally understand the phenomenon of rubbernecking after an accident. It’s one part disturbing curiosity, one part disbelief.

Military vehicles and guardsmen fill the city. I’ve never seen so many this far away from the fort.

“The place where I grew up smells like death.”

During the past 48 hours, rising waters threatened the arches of the bridge. They’re receding, but I’ve never seen the water level this high.

Flooding at the Congaree River under the Gervais St. bridge.

Flooding at the Congaree River under the Gervais St. bridge.

The place where I grew up smells like death. I have a treasury of memories along the Congaree River, dating back to childhood.

My husband and I were engaged at the park there. I’ve had many long conversations with loved ones there. I’ve often gone there to clear my head.

The walking trails have flooded before. But I’ve never seen them flood like this.

On a summer day, the river often gives an oceanic scent–it’s the smell of dead sea creatures. But you normally have to concentrate to notice it.

Today, you can smell it from the bridge. Debris floats along the muddy rushing water, which has washed over the shore line.

Flooding several feet deep at one entrance to the Cayce Riverwalk.

Flooding several feet deep at one entrance to the Cayce Riverwalk.

I drive out to Rosewood to pick up a few things. A clerk at a local store says they weren’t affected by the flooding. But just a little ways down the road, the wrought iron fence at Midlands Tech was knocked down by flooding.

Cops are directing traffic at Rosewood and Garner’s Ferry. The lights are out. They’re not even blinking.

I was just here the other day.

Emergency workers are closing off the east-bound lanes of Jarvis Klapman. I hear they’re using a section of that bridge to patch the canal. I also hear a new sink hole may have opened up in the area. I hear another sink hole opened up near 12th St. at Amazon.

Flooding damages the fence at Midlands Tech in Columbia.

Flooding damages the fence at Midlands Tech in Columbia.

The sun is shining, but no end is in sight.

The sound of sirens is tapering off, along with the flood.

Our house isn’t in a flood plain. But tonight Chris tells me we’re inside a 500-year flood plain. Suddenly, I don’t like our odds.

The world outside is still, except for the sound of helicopter blades beating the air.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 7

The sound of helicopter blades is still going outside. I heard them several times throughout the night. They must be for the work on the canal.

Gov. Haley gives her third news conference since disaster struck on Sunday.

Of the state’s thousands of bridges, 62 are being monitored. Thirteen have failed.

As of Wednesday afternoon, officials have reported 15 disaster-related fatalities. And two people are missing after a group of five tried to maneuver around a barricade.

More than 400 of our roads and bridges are closed. That number will climb, says Haley.

I have to admit, she’s done a great job of coordinating the disaster response and of keeping the public informed.

“You can tell a lot about the character of a community by how it responds to disaster.”

News reports have warned people to be on alert for scammers taking advantage of flood victims.

I don’t believe the human race is good at heart.

But I do believe you can tell a lot about the character of a community by how it responds to disaster. Law enforcement reports no instances of looting.

Our neighbors have lost much. Other neighbors have given much.

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