Carolina residents reeling after Florence

Residents in North and South Carolina fight rising floodwaters as officials warn the worst is yet to come.

Posted: Sep 19, 2018 8:21 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2018 8:37 AM

I remember Hurricane Hugo. Back then, in September 1989, I was one of many Howard University students sending canned goods, water and other supplies to people affected by the Category 4 hurricane that crashed into South Carolina and immediately caused chaos.

Huge power outages swept the state. My family was living in a small community called Boyer, in the middle of the state, and went without electricity for nine days. On the Grand Strand, which includes Pawleys Island and Myrtle Beach, homes snapped like pretzels. Majestic trees were strewn like toothpicks by Hugo's 140-mph sustained winds (with gusts of more than 160 mph). According to the National Hurricane Center, at least 50 people lost their lives as a direct result of the storm.

Forecasters agreed Hurricane Florence had the potential of being a bigger wolf than Hugo. Sheep had to be on guard. That's why I made a special plea to my shepherd.

Enter the anointed oil. It was what I held in my hand as I stood alone at the door of my Myrtle Beach condo. A preacher had given it to me 10 years before during a revival meeting.

When I heard about Florence's fury, I asked Jesus to protect my life, my family, my friends, my foes and our homes. I anointed my condo with the oil.

Then, after I prayed and packed, I got into my 2006 Honda Accord V6 and put some distance between Florence and myself. I was going to be with my mama and other loved ones more than 100 miles away.

Florence, may find me, I thought, but she won't see me in Myrtle Beach.

Hurricanes wear you out. Folks who have endured them know this. They inconvenience all of us. They make plenty of us frantic. They make us spend money we need for other things. They make enough of us angry.

The molasses-moving Florence was no different.

"I think it sucks,'' said John Smeyda, my Myrtle Beach neighbor, when we spoke on the phone Friday. He decided to stay behind.

He is a 57-year-old retired electrician with a Marine haircut and a voice that booms. For him, Florence was a headache he wanted to go away as soon as possible.

On Friday, the storm still hadn't showed up. It had been raining for hours. Gusty winds were getting more rambunctious.

Florence was weakening, slowing down. She danced her way out of a Category 4 rating and eventually diminished in strength, becoming a tropical depression.

Yet her wickedness can't be denied. More than 30 people have died in North and South Carolina and Virginia. The flooding caused by the storm's torrential rains may bring even more devastation.

My classmate, Jacqueline Gilmore Jackson, 49, resides in Wilmington, North Carolina. She and her 20-year-old son, Devin, are OK. Their home didn't sustain any critical damage. She lost some shingles. Part of her fence came down, but there is no water accumulation on her property at all.

A mere 30 minutes away, others weren't as fortunate. She said cars are floating down streets. Homes are almost hidden by floodwaters. Her city is basically cut off, for now, from the outside world.

Gilmore Jackson said the major highways leading into Wilmington are closed because of the flooding. Roads have washed out. Bridges have given out.

"Nobody can help us right now," she told me Monday when I called to check on her. "We have to help ourselves. Of course, God is helping us all."

I am thankful to hear this. I know firsthand how dangerous and unpredictable unrepentant weather can be.

During my career at The Myrtle Beach Sun News, where I was a journalist for nearly 20 years, I met notable members of Florence's family.

Fran was wicked. Back in October 1996, I watched as a 48-year-old farmer mourned corn bent by wind, as if in prayer, after Fran destroyed about $100,000 of his crop.

Floyd demolished a 65-year-old family home. Its 86-year-old widowed matriarch cried over the sanctuary where she birthed seven of her eight children. That was in 1999. I cried with her.

Storms are also a part of my family history. Mama told me about my great granddaddy, Herbert Gilmore, when I was a little girl. He was a successful farmer until a storm destroyed all the labor completed by his talented, leathered, ebony hands. The pernicious storm, its name unknown to us, tumbled his Holly Hill, South Carolina, home and killed all of his livestock in 1929. The storm's subsequent flood defeated an otherwise strong man, who suffered a heart attack and died.

As I write this, news outlets are reporting that hundreds of thousands of people are without power in the Carolinas. People and animals are still in need of rescuing. The death toll may grow. Flooding is expected to continue in the Carolinas as rivers rise and are yet to crest. Folks in Conway, only 14 miles from me, are maneuvering amid floodwaters from the Waccamaw River.

I faced no such terror on Monday. While driving back home, the sun pushed aside gray clouds as it warmed my face. Merely shallow waters, not deep waters, covered parts of US 17 in Pawleys Island as I got closer to Myrtle Beach. When I got out of my car, I climbed 32 steps and found my home intact. I looked around from my balcony and saw my community was basically unscathed.

I am thankful because my prayer was answered.

Still, I can't be blasé about storms of any kind. Wisdom demands that of me. This year's hurricane season doesn't end until November 30. More watery wolves may be on the way. That's why I am so glad I am rooted in faith.

It's where I place my trust whenever a storm is raging. And lately, that's been often.

West Lafayette
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 69°
Kokomo
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Rensselaer
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Fowler
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
Williamsport
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 67°
Crawfordsville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 63°
Frankfort
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 60°
Delphi
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Monticello
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Logansport
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 63°
Warm Weekend Continues Sunday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 72254

Reported Deaths: 3023
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15503725
Lake7447274
Elkhart476082
Allen3789161
St. Joseph337381
Hamilton2668105
Vanderburgh188813
Hendricks1833106
Cass17749
Johnson1719118
Porter126639
Clark117846
Tippecanoe117711
Madison91565
LaPorte88330
Howard87265
Kosciusko84012
Marshall77122
Bartholomew76647
Floyd76045
Monroe72230
Delaware70152
Dubois67612
Boone66246
Noble65929
Hancock64138
Vigo58610
Jackson5725
Warrick57030
LaGrange55610
Shelby54227
Grant52130
Dearborn49328
Morgan45934
Clinton4093
Henry37320
Wayne35410
White35410
Montgomery34821
Lawrence33627
Decatur33232
Harrison32123
Putnam2868
Miami2672
Daviess26320
Scott26310
Greene24634
Franklin23813
Jasper2272
DeKalb2264
Jennings22012
Gibson2144
Steuben2063
Ripley1977
Fayette1837
Perry18112
Carroll1772
Starke1767
Posey1670
Orange16624
Wabash1633
Wells1622
Fulton1612
Jefferson1552
Whitley1506
Knox1490
Tipton1336
Spencer1313
Washington1311
Huntington1213
Newton11510
Randolph1154
Clay1095
Sullivan1031
Adams952
Jay860
Owen841
Pulaski761
Rush744
Brown731
Fountain682
Blackford622
Ohio624
Benton600
Pike520
Parke511
Vermillion500
Switzerland450
Crawford440
Martin430
Union370
Warren221
Unassigned0202

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events