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Flood waters strike Wampee family twice in days

jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Friday, Shamira Williams was eating brunch – a Bojangles’ gravy biscuit with a sausage patty on top – when the rain got heavier and the water began to rise.

An hour later, the house she’s shared with her husband, Craig, for four years – their starter home ‑ was under water.

Her car, submerged. Her clothes, soaked. Her finance degree from Francis Marion University, once mounted proudly on the wall near her wedding photo, now in the puddle seeping into her carpet.

The waters receded, but just when she thought there would be a reprieve, the rains came again on Sunday. And the house flooded a second time.

On Tuesday, Williams, 28, her niece, father and other relatives gathered in the front lawn of the home off S.C. 57, emptying Williams’ 2011 black Chevrolet Cruze so her insurance company could inspect it.

The car hasn’t cranked since before the deluge that slammed parts of South Carolina, overflowed creeks and streams and left ponds of standing water in Myrtle Beach and coastal North Carolina.

Nobody expected it to flood. I’m just glad it’s over. I hope nothing like this ever happens again.

Wampee homeowner Shamira Williams

Inside the Williams home on Tuesday, the carpet was squishy. Pots and pans were strewn on countertops, and a dead frog lay in the kitchen.

“I hate frogs,” Williams lamented.

Still, her smile rarely faltered, even as she grabbed a bundle of drenched towels.

“They’re just things,” said Williams, who works from home for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, and is also a freelance professional trumpet player. “Surprisingly, everything works. All my utilities work, except my WiFi.”

Williams’ home sits on low-lying land. Her yard typically floods in a heavy rain, she said. But never like this.

“It came up to the first step,” Williams said of the water. “Within 30 minutes to an hour, it came on the second step.”

Her brother-in-law, who lives in a house on the same property, suggested she leave and take refuge at his home. She wanted to grab some personal items.

No time.

By the time she walked out her back door, she was wading in knee-deep water.

Gabriel Crawford saw her aunt’s swamped home from the window of a school bus that plowed through the rainfall on Friday.

“I was shocked … I was worried about her all night,” said Crawford, a 16-year-old sophomore at North Myrtle Beach High School. The downpour delayed her arrival home by two hours, she said.

“We were soaked,” Crawford said. “Nobody prepared for it … nobody expected it to flood. I’m just glad it’s over. I hope nothing like this ever happens again.”

Williams and her husband don’t have flood insurance: “Everything’s out of pocket,” she said.

She’s filled out a FEMA application for help with home repairs.

The house belonged to her late Aunt Gertrude, who died in 2006. Her family spent eight months renovating the interior before it was move-in ready, Williams said.

“It was a blessing,” Williams said. “No house payments.”

Now, Williams is angling for more repairs and praying for more blessings. A carpet company was expected on Tuesday to give her an estimate.

“I’m definitely going to invest in some flood insurance,” she said. “Lesson learned.”

Across the border

Days after persistent rainfall brought what forecasters labeled “historic” flooding to South Carolina, coastal towns north of Myrtle Beach crawled to normalcy.

Authorities in Brunswick County, N.C., on Tuesday continued to monitor areas prone to flooding, warning motorists to avoid standing water and puddles and encouraging residents to stay off the roads, if possible.

Most of the county is now mostly in recovery mode, said Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Emily Flax.

It’s definitely looking better. We’re doing a lot of riding around and checking” on areas prone to flooding.

Emily Flax, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman

“It’s definitely looking better,” she said. “We’re doing a lot of riding around and checking” on areas prone to flooding.

On Tuesday morning, Gov. Pat McCrory surveyed the damage in Brunswick County.

Earlier Tuesday, officials shut down parts of U.S. 17 southbound after an area creek started to overflow and rise above its banks, Flax said. Officials diverted southbound traffic into the highway’s northbound lane.

All evacuations in the area, she said, have been voluntary.

On Ocean Isle Beach, streams of standing water covered a stretch of East 1st Street, creating small moats in front of a row of condominiums.

Some motorists braved the waters in jeeps, trucks and even a golf cart. Businesses, such as Pelican’s Perch and Homemade Ice Cream, were open for business, waiting for the tourists to return.

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