‘Let me come back to something’: Horry County residents return home as floods recede

Washed out roads, standing water inside homes and random items in yards are just a few items Horry County residents are finding as floodwaters recede.

The waters, which rose in the county for about a week following Hurricane Florence, have slowly started to recede, allowing people to return home to assess the damage.

Roads are also starting to reopen including most of S.C. Highway 905. S.C. Highway 9 remains closed as sections of the road were washed away or still underwater.

U.S. Highway 501 will also start to return to normal next week when National Guard crews work to remove the flood barriers near the bridge outside Conway on Monday. The stretch was reduced to a lane in each direction for a week and caused traffic backups throughout the county.

“We do not know how long that will take,” Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge said.

A portion of the eastbound lane of Hwy. 9 in Longs has been washed away after the effects from the flooding of Hurricane Florence. The road remains closed and mostly inaccessible after the effects from the flooding of Hurricane Florence. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

In Longs, residents started to return and found standing water and damage inside homes. A smell that mixed stale water, dead fish and sewage still wafted through the air and stung the nostrils with each breeze.

In the Polo Farms subdivision off Highway 905, many yards are filled with discarded furniture, rugs and flooring from standing water that was in people’s home. The discovery created a wave of emotions for the Seeley family.

“You go up and down, first you’re sick to your stomach,” Bill Seeley said. “Then you realize it’s just stuff.”

Seeley wore a mask over his face to protect his allergies from the mildew and smell as he inspected the damage in and out of his home. The inside had about 9 inches of standing water with a running line of mud marks on the bottom of his wall.

The carpet still squished as people walked around and his handmade woodwork is likely destroyed.

The Seeley family, like others in the neighborhood, await Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to assess the damage before they can remove all the damaged items.

Floodwaters reached inside Bill Seeley’s home off S.C. Highway 905 in Longs destroying the flooring. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

Andrew Stockwell was tearing out the flooring and bottom of the drywall in his home. He also took items and laid them out in the driveway hoping they would dry. Inside, he had about 11 inches of standing water.

After Hurricane Matthew, the floodwater stayed in the road about six feet from the house. Stockwell said it scared him enough to buy flood insurance, but he never imagined it would enter his home.

It took five warnings from the National Guard before he decided to evacuate to a hotel with his wife, three dogs and two cats.

“I lived in denial water was ever going to get to this high,” Stockwell said.

On McNeil Chapel Road, Doug Pratt returned home on Thursday. He now has a log bridge that leads from his driveway to his home across a still swampy yard. Problem is, the wood panels aren’t his, only brought to his property by rushing currents.

“None of this is mine,” he said. “I don’t know where none of this came from.”

Milk crates, glass boxes, a vintage lemonade pitcher and a doghouse — “I have no idea where this doghouse came from” — were also left in the yard where Pratt walked around pointing to all the things that weren’t his a week before the storm.

Longs resident Doug Pratt talks about the damage his home suffered after the flooding from Hurricane Florence. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

His trailer was lucky to escape most of the damage though he will have to replace some insulation.

Pratt has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years and floods never came close to his home. That was until a week ago, when he woke up to knee-deep water in his front yard.

“I don’t need to lose everything,” he remembered thinking at the time. “Let me come back to something.”

Luckily the floods allowed him to come back to something — and a few more surprises.

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