Despite all the wreckage caused by Hurricane Matthew — the destruction of property and flooding of area rivers — Inland Reef neighbors gathered at an intersection of water-filled streets by the Intracoastal Waterway here Sunday for an impromptu block party.
“The only thing that makes us happy right now is that it’s a Sunday afternoon and we are with our neighbors,” said Jenny Marquez. “We’re close neighbors. We lean on each other and check on each other.”
She and her husband Conrad Marquez, along with neighbors B.J. Poag, Tina Pendleton and a 12-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever named Roxie, stood in the flooded street with cold beverages to swap flood stories and discus where they and others were riding out the deluge.
“It’s our hurricane survival party,” said Conrad Marquez. “Because we’re survivors.”
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The Marquez family plans to stay in their house surrounded by flood water with their pets. So are Poag and Pendleton.
“We’re saving our money for repairs,” Poag said.
Neighbors along River Bend Road joked that the water was so deep in their front yard, they were fishing for carp. Didn’t catch anything, they reported.
Houses along The Intracoastal Waterway were eerily silent for a sunny weekend day. Some residents peeked from windows as the water steadily climbed, determined to stay in their homes. Other houses appeared vacated, surrounded by SUVs and a Cadillac that were half-submerged in the water.
Sewer systems have been breached, as was evidenced by the stench. But that didn’t stop neighborhood kids from riding their bicycles through the flooded streets.
The water around Pendleton’s house came up to the porch, so she carried her seven-week old black Labrador Retriever puppy Jazzie through the flooded yard and onto a dry patch of pavement for play time with Roxie.
“She’s already fallen off the porch and into the water,” Pendleton said. “I heard a plop and looked down, and she was trying to climb up the lattice so I had to grab her collar to pull her up.”
The neighborhood hummed with activity, some were hauling in groceries to ride it out, others packing up their belongings and heading elsewhere.
“If the house floods and I have to wade out, I will,” said Carol Nash, who has lived in her home on River Bend Road for 20 years. “Until then, I’m staying right here.”
The main topic of conversation among neighbors as they gathered in the streets and called to each other from porches surrounded by water — when will the river finally crest?
The latest estimate is Monday.
The Waccamaw River that flows into the Intracoastal Waterway is expected to reach 17.6 feet, levels not seen since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The record crest was set in 1928 at 17.8 feet, according to the National Weather Service.
Bill Rex of Folly Road said he’s lived there through Hurricanes Hugo, Floyd and now Matthew, but this is the first time Mother Nature has claimed his house.
“This is the worst the flooding has ever been,” Rex said. “But that’s what we have insurance for.
“You can’t stop it, you’ve just got to deal with it.”
The rising water destroyed the first floor of Rex’s house, and he’s predicting it will be a while before he can make the necessary repairs.
Rex is a contractor, and expects he will be swamped in the coming months making repairs to other people’s homes.
In the meantime, he signed a lease this weekend to rent another house for one year.
“I’ve got to do my other job too, I’ve got to work and make money,” Rex said.