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Here’s what a Longs community looks like after Hurricane Florence flooding

Wampee residents drive along Collins Road Sunday trying to get to and from their homes in the area.
Wampee residents drive along Collins Road Sunday trying to get to and from their homes in the area. jbell@thesunnews.com

Two lines were drawn in the sand, showing water from the Waccamaw River slowly receding in the roadway.

Brad Cox pointed to the lines, explaining how he wakes up at 3 a.m. to check the water levels and keep an eye on the now-empty neighborhood.

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Wampee resident Brad Cox weeps as he looks down at the flood waters that have covered his neighborhood on Collins Road. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

Several homes along Collins Road, a Longs community, are flooded, forcing families out of the tightly knit community and into hotels for an unknown amount of time.

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“This is the worst it’s ever been here,” Cox said. “We’ve seen flooding, but never, never, never to this mark.”

When the water came, people didn’t have time to clean out their houses, leaving behind furniture, clothes and family heirlooms. Collins Road looked normal with cars sitting in driveways and front porch lights turned on.

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The Collins Road area in Wampee is completed covered with water. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

But about 2 feet of water showed the reality of the situation, as bugs and sticks floated by, small fish swam down the road, the smell of stagnant water noticeable.

Mailboxes were halfway submerged, surpassing the flooding the community saw after Hurricane Matthew hit the coast in 2016.

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“My grandma left with only the clothes she had on her back,” Cox said, with tears streaming down his face.

Cox described his neighborhood as “knowing no strangers.” Each house is filled with members of his family, he said. At the start of the road, people came to see the damage, wondering how high the water was in the homes of their friends and family.

“Today is Sunday,” Cox said. “We’d probably be getting ready to grill out. It’s crazy. Not today. But we’re still going to have dinner.”

The community was planning to have dinner at one of their hotels, keeping their tradition alive.

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Wampee resident Busbee Livingston prepares to head to his home on Collins Road Sunday. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

“It’s all I know,” he said. “I know Star Bluff and back over here. It’s not like there’s strangers next door. We help raise each other’s kids. That’s all we know.”

Cox, whose house flooded along Collins Road, was staying with his friend at the corner of Collins and Sweet Bay roads. The home had not yet flooded and was housing two dogs, chickens, guineas birds and horses.

While the water is far from gone, Cox knows the neighborhood will come together to get everyone back on their feet.

In the past, houses impacted by floodwaters have not received much help from the government and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.

Only two homes on the road have flood insurance.

“We know we gotta pull it together and help everybody fix each other’s houses over here. I’m a carpenter, by the way, so this is what I do,” Cox said.

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