Recovery continues one year after historic flooding

Recovery continues one year after historic flooding

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - One year ago, historic flooding devastated South Carolina, but the healing process is still ongoing.

"One event has changed us," Christine McMorrow said.

Christine and Scott McMorrow said they never thought about the potential for flooding when they moved to the Little River area in 2014.

"At the time I thought, 'Fifty feet above sea level. Three miles from the ocean. Why do we need flood insurance?'" Scott McMorrow said.

They said flood insurance wasn't required with their mortgage and they thought the creek next to their house was a nice feature where they could see ducks and other wildlife.

When the storm came on Oct. 2, 2015, they said they watched the bustling creek without knowing what it would soon turn into.

"It was churning and it was exciting, at first," Scott McMorrow said.

They were inside when they said the excessive rainfall became too much for the portion of the creek across the street from their house to handle, so it went over the road and into the front of the house, which they said is at the lowest point in the neighborhood.

"Next thing we know we could hear the neighbors outside our window with flashlights saying, 'Don't open your door,'" Christine McMorrow said. "From there, it just snowballed."

It was too dark to see what threatened outside, but they could hear it.

"It sounded like waves at the ocean crashing into the home," Scott McMorrow said. "I could hear the metal garage door; it sounded like it was buckling."

As they packed, they started seeing the water for themselves seeping inside.

"It came up 6 inches to a foot within minutes," Scott McMorrow said.

He added his military training as a Marine during Operation Desert Storm couldn't have prepared him for the situation because it wasn't one he encountered during his service.

"That's why we train, for experience," he said. "Luckily, the first responders were there to help us."

However, the strength he has as a veteran pushed him to get that help he knew his family needed. They called Horry County for assistance in getting out of the house.

"Once I accepted the fact the house was underwater, I kind of said we need to do what we can to get out of here and be safe," Scott McMorrow said. "It's just a house. It took a little while for me to surrender the house."

They couldn't just walk out the front door because that would have let more water in. So they had to go out the window, handing their two cats in carriers to rescue crews, then wade through the flooding down the street to safety.

"We didn't even know what we were wading through," Christine McMorrow said. "It was about waist deep. I had sweatpants on. It was cold. It was rainy."

They took a fire truck to a shelter, but had to go stay somewhere else through the help of a friend because they had their cats and the shelter wouldn't accept pets.

The couple went to a friend's condo for a week, then ended up staying at the Retreat in North Myrtle Beach for three months because the house was uninhabitable.

"Just opening up the drawers in the dresser, there was already mold growing and it was only maybe four days," Christine McMorrow said. "That was our reality."

They needed to gut the entire first floor and weren't sure how they'd ever move back in again.

"I thought it would cost probably 50 grand," Scott McMorrow said. "We didn't have that."

They said FEMA, several military organizations and All Phase contracting came through for them.

Plus, the community made donations through a Go Fund Me account.

"It was so overwhelming the amount of support we were getting from people I didn't even know sending me messages, emails," Scott McMorrow said.

They said they also went into Flynn's Irish Tavern for the first time because of where they were staying and met the owner.

"From there, she actually rallied around people," Christine McMorrow said. "They did little fundraisers. They had people sending us checks that we didn't even know.

While that money helped the McMorrows start their new life inside their home in January, work still remains on the outside of the house.

Scott McMorrow said they've taken out a loan with the Small Business Association for that.

"There were some bushes with some mulch, some planting, so we're working on fixing that and putting it back to normal again aesthetically," he said.

As for the creek that caused the flooding, Horry County removed 36-inch pipes and replaced them with 60-inch pipes.

The McMorrows said they're thankful to see progress, but concerns remain.

"We still have some issues with some things like why the creek still has water in it and our driveway is flooding still occasionally and it never happened before," Scott McMorrow said. "So I think there's a problem with drainage still, so I don't think we're there yet.

They said the county is continuing to cooperate with them to come up with a solution.

They now live with flood insurance just in case, but no amount of water or damage will discourage them.

"We need to do the best that we can," Scott McMorrow said. "We can't just walk away."

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