The residents of Blue Savannah just north of Galivant’s Ferry had no idea a flood was coming to the Little Pee Dee River on Tuesday morning.
However, dozens were left dealing with the impact of the flooded river, which reached 17 feet on Tuesday, 8 feet above flood stage. Many people scrambled to get out, but a few were left stranded.
“They could have sent somebody around or fly around on a helicopter and holler out of a loudspeaker, you know?” said Richard Ledbetter. “I’ve seen them do that many times.”
Ledbetter, a disabled Vietnam veteran who was planning to celebrate his 69th birthday with a steak dinner, was instead stranded inside a large truck with his wife, Rachel, trying to stay dry.
The cops should have come by and warned us.
They were down to two gallons of water and were worried about their dogs, Buddy and Dusty. Ledbetter has diabetes and hadn’t taken his medicine or eaten anything. Rachel Ledbetter had broken her knee a month earlier and was still in a cast.
Their truck was filled with food, clothes, boxes and dog food.
The water reeked of oil.
We might just go sleep on top of the shop or something. I’ve got that big ole’ trailer right yonder. We could stay on top of it easy, if we had to.
Richard Ledbetter said he had never experienced any flooding like this in the six years he had lived there. He was told the day before that the river was rising, but no one expected flooding into the neighborhood houses.
At 5:30 p.m. Monday, he and his wife tried leaving the area, but it was too late. They started packing up their belongings, prioritizing their clothes, food, pictures and important paperwork. Some of their belongings they put on higher shelves in the house.
That night, they thought the water was receding and Richard Ledbetter put a fan in the garage to help dry it out.
But by 10 a.m. Tuesday, their floor was submerged. They had no warning.
You figure if they would have known, they’d have had people out here other than homeowners out here helping each other.
“It was coming up so fast we didn’t have time to round up nothing or get prepared for anything,” he said. “We had a few things and put them up high, what we could get high. I had all this stuff stored in the shed and it’s floating off everywhere.”
The couple has family in Georgia and Little River, but Ledbetter didn’t know whether to stay or try to get out using their boat.
“We might just go sleep on top of the shop or something,” he said. “I’ve got that big ole’ trailer right yonder. We could stay on top of it easy, if we had to. The thing is, if the water went down, I don’t know how we’d get down from there.”
From what everybody said, it was a surprise.
He was also worried about looters, and had a pistol strapped to his side and a rifle in the boat that was tied to his truck.
“I’m gonna try to wait it out here if we can, because we’ve got too much stuff to lose,” he said. “There’s lots of thieves around here, in this part of the country. I don’t know where I’m going to go. I might rent a motor home or something. I may need some help getting out of here. I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I hate to leave, I don’t want to leave. I could go stay on the pontoon boat if it don’t sink.”
While conflicted about how long to stay, he was certain about one thing.
I don’t know what to do. I hate to leave, I don’t want to leave. I could go stay on the pontoon boat if it don’t sink.
“The cops should have come by and warned us,” he said.
Kelly Hucks, who doesn’t live in the area, was there to help his boss, Barry Williamson.
Williamson said he knew the flood was coming by looking at flood charts and removed everything from his house the day before. On Tuesday, he was with Hucks helping out neighbors.
“From what everybody said, it was a surprise,” Hucks said. “They need to have more people out here helping than what they’ve had. They said it was going to crest out, but not this bad. You figure if they would have known, they’d have had people out here other than homeowners out here helping each other.”