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A new challenge: Flood victim discusses efforts to rebuild
Callie Shirley WEB
Callie Shirley

Early one morning, Lugoff-Elgin High School sophomore Madison Huntley received a call she was in no way expecting. Her beloved home had flooded, and much of it was lost to the torrents of water which kept seeping in.

In the beginning of October, the “flood of a thousand years” wreaked havoc on the citizens of South Carolina. It destroyed people’s homes, businesses and means of transportation. Huntley was one of the unfortunate victims of this disaster. Her mother was hysterical, and her father was not home because he was rescuing tools from where he worked.

“My mom had called (me),” Huntley said. “She had taken a nap and woke up, the house was flooded, and she did not know what to do.”

Nor would anyone, undoubtedly. The well had collapsed, and because her house is built into a hill with her parents’ bedroom at ground level, the water just kept seeping in from there and flooded the entire house. When she saw the state of her home, she could barely fathom what had happened. The walls and floors were completely ruined, and nearly everything inside the house was soaking wet.

“I did not process it until I saw it, but I was not quite sure how to feel,” Huntley said. “I did get really upset (though). I had my moments.”

With the loss of her home came a new challenge in life: to overcome and move on from tragedy. Having to move back and forth between her grandparents’ house, her friends’ houses and living in a camper, is an adjustment she has had to make because of the flood, and it feels very strange to her.

“(It has) put us out of our comfort zone, really,” Huntley said. “I think it will teach me how to handle with situations better.”

Rather than giving up on their home, their family has decided to work towards rebuilding it even better than it was before. They have already taken out the furniture and removed the floors. They are at the halfway point right now though; it will still be a few more months before they can move back in because of all the damage that happened. They still have to sweep everything up, paint the walls, and tap into city water because of the well’s collapse.

“It is funny because we were always complaining about the floors and stuff... and [now] we get new floors and new walls,” Huntley said.

The effort to rebuild has not been made alone either. Numerous people have contributed to the work of flood relief.

“People have offered me places to stay” Huntley said. “One of my mom’s coworkers made a go-fund-me account, and they raised over a thousand dollars. The marching band [also] offered to come out [to] help us with the floors and stuff.”

One may feel that a tragedy such as this could have had the power to tear South Carolina apart, but this was not the case. Many would argue that people have bonded even more because of this.

“Everybody was busy helping each other out, and that was really different to see because you never see that anywhere else,” Huntley said.

Without a doubt, what happened was terrible, but the best in a lot of people rose to the surface, and stronger friendships were forged because of this. Her teachers have even been very understanding, and they have worked with her a lot to help her keep up with her schoolwork.

“It is amazing to see what people are willing to do for you and how much they really care,” Huntley said. “You do not realize it until something like this happens. It is pretty incredible to see and to witness.”

(Callie Shirley is a sophomore at Lugoff-Elgin High School who works on the school’s newspaper, The Pitchfork, and one of several high school columnists for the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C.)