I was there with my spouse in March.
Now, on TV, we watch the horror of the Columbia flooding, roads we had driven on under water or washed out. Houses we had passed now uninhabitable. Some areas of the state got 27 inches of rain in two days.
That brown water everywhere. I know the look of flood. I know the smell of flood. I know what it is like to witness schools relocated. I witnessed houses and businesses abandoned. I saw sights I never have blogged about. (If I ever write a memoir, I may put some of those scenes in there.)
It sounds too familiar. "Our neighborhood isn't flood prone." We said that, too, disbelieving. We weren't even in a flood zone.
They never thought they would be facing a flood, either.
It's (to quote the late Yogi Berra) like deja vu all over again. Historic weather, but this time not a 500 year flood like we had, but a 1000 year flood. Some residents say the flood was of biblical proportions. So many floods, it seems, all over the world. The random finger of fate, this time, landed on the Carolinas.
I want to show you a little bit of Columbia, so it isn't just a place on a weather report to you.
Columbia calls itself the Soda City. They may be drinking a lot of soda there, and bottled water, in the coming days. Some of it will be handed out by the Red Cross and other similar organizations. The drinking water is contaminated. The hospitals struggled to stay open because of lack of clean water. As I write this, tens of thousands of people in South Carolina are without drinking water.
This historic building, making flour for over 100 years, is located on what is called the Congaree Vista. Now, the Congaree River occupies Columbia. I hope the flour mill survived.
|Now a supermarket, once a Confederate printing plant|
Columbia is the capital of South Carolina. It has a beautiful state house on whose grounds, until recently, the Confederate flag flew. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, in 1860. and the state where the United States Civil War started.
Columbia, as a state capital, has some fine museums. One is a Confederate museum. My spouse and I, both interested in Civil War history, visited.
We were looking at a display devoted to the 150th anniversary of the burning of Columbia. Some of the burning was done by Union troops, but Confederates were responsible for other parts of the burning. At any event, part of the city burned.
But Columbia rebuilt. It was a long process, painful, but they recovered.
So, 150 years later, Columbia faces another disaster.
It makes me wonder how many of the people I interacted with lost their homes. If they did, I've seen a little of what they, and their families, will go through. I didn't go through most of it myself - I was a fortunate one in a neighborhood not as fortunate. But I saw some of my neighbors having to rely on the Salvation Army and the Red Cross and other help. Many citizens of Columbia may well have to apply to FEMA, a government agency, for help. I do know something of what that is like, too.
But I am confident that, based on what I saw in March, Columbia will rebuild.
Have you been affected in recent years by the weather?