Thankful In Columbia

This grateful Callahan staffer is doing fine after epic rainfall washes away so much of central South Carolina.

We’ve spent the past few days in the midst of still-unfolding disaster here in Columbia, SC. Numerous friends in our industry have asked after me and I’m just now getting around to answering. Thanks for your concern. Personally, my family and me are fine but this has been a very rough past couple of days here in my neighborhood of the past 25 years, the capital city, and across most of the Palmetto State.

At my house, the only thing we lost was water and it came back after two days. But so much destruction around us. So sad. We live along this string of lakes formed by dams along Gills Creek google Gills Creek and Forest Acres and you’ll see what I mean and we were one of the areas most affected.

We got about 20 inches of rain this weekend in Forest Acres, which is its own little town basically surrounded by Columbia and the Army’s big Fort Jackson. Gills Creek goes under the main road through our neighborhood, and that road is now washed out. During that process Sunday, there were water rescues and one guy who didn’t make it. They found his body Tuesday in what’s left of a lake a couple blocks away from my house.

Numerous other bridges were washed out, and dam after dam failed. There were evacuations around us but only one that included my street. We’re upstream from all but one of the really risky dams and it now looks like it’s going to hold. Only one of my friends actually had substantial damage to her house. But many people lost everything. And it’ll be a long time before we’re back to normal here. Schools also are out all week, and the media writing class I teach at the real USC is now online.

But, truth be told, we’re blessed. Lots of rural areas around here were just as hard hit and those folks are really isolated. I’m just trying to keep focused, but distractions like National Guard trucks with 5-foot clearance driving by and Blackhawk helicopters overhead are so much more interesting. (Thanks again, Fort Jackson!) Plus, turns out we have more alligators around here than most folks realized.

P.S., the editor in me just has to say this. When the Weather Service says this was a 1,000-year storm it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t rained like this for a thousand years. It means there’s a one-in-1,000 chance of this particular event happening in any given year. But I’m lucky to be able to be somewhat flippant at a time like this. Many people were very badly affected, and several lost their lives right here in town, swept right off city streets by waters where before there had been none.

As for us, my wife is taking the photo albums out of the trunk of her car and we’re both going back to work. And we’re grateful for that.

October 7, 2015

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