‘If God brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it’: A look at Bucksport community

Desiree McCray walked across the porch of her mother’s Bucksport home, clutching a brightly colored quilt.

She stopped and looked at the dead plants that were scattered around the yard. Next to her, Blake McCray was carrying out storage boxes filled with clothes and family photos.

Her mother, Denise McCray, walked down the front stairs, assessing the damage done to her home for the first time since floodwaters rose, overtaking the small community.

Desiree McCray takes belongings from her flooded home on Martin Luther Drive in Bucksport. The blanket under her left arm was an important keepsake that a local quilting group gave her when she was suffering through treatment for Lupus. Flooding along Bucksport Road finally receded enough on Wednesday for residents to get a first look at their flooded homes. Wednesday. October 3, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

“He didn’t take much,” Denise McCray said, looking at her son.

Inside, the house is filled with furniture and everyday items piled up on tables and chairs to save them from the water. In the living room, a black leather recliner is covered in mildew.

Desiree McCray only returned for the quilt — a keepsake her mother thought she brought with her when they left her house a week earlier.

She received the quilt from the Conway Quilt Guild after Hurricane Matthew hit the coast in 2016. At the time, she was battling lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease.

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“The quilt guild was so good to me,” Desiree McCray said, explaining why she came back for the item.

While she battled lupus, the Martin Luther Drive home filled a couple inches with water from Hurricane Matthew. But Hurricane Florence left several feet of water in the home, ruining almost everything.

“It ain’t even been two years and here we go,” Denise McCray said. “Boom, bam, bang. Here with the flood again.”

Denise McCray has lived on the property for more than 50 years. The home was passed down to her by her mother.

Desiree McCray was preparing to move back into the house before the storm hit. Desiree McCray’s 7-year-old son, Allen, spends most of his time at the house when his mom is working at the Horry County Parks and Recreation center.

Now, the family has to decide whether to move out of the house — a choice that left Denise and Blake McCray close to tears Wednesday afternoon.

“I don’t wanna, but I have to because of my health,” Denise McCray said, emphasizing her chronic asthma.

Blake McCray collects family pictures from his flooded home off Martin Luther Rd. in Bucksport trying to prevent important memories from being spoiled by the moisture. Flooding along Bucksport Road finally receded enough on Wednesday for residents to get a first look at their flooded homes. Wednesday. October 3, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

It’s not just their home from which they’ve been displaced.

At the intersection of Bucksport Road and Hickman Drive, the Victoria Chapel Holiness Church is seen with a noticeable brown line ringing the bottom of the bright white building.

While the church does not have a large congregation, much of the community treks to the building for every Sunday service.

Ben Owens, who’s been a member of the church for two years, pulled up in a red truck to see the damage that was done from the flooding.

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“It’s kind of rough in there,” he said.

Walking in, Owens flipped the switch, but the lights didn’t turn on. Wood on the bottom of the pews was warped, the red cushions damp from the moisture.

All the doors to the building were open, fans spinning, as Owens tried to air out excess water that was pooling between the raised laminate flooring.

Ben Owens, a member of Victoria Chapel Holiness Church looks out over the wet sanctuary after flooding from Hurricane Florence entered the Bucksport, SC church. Flooding along Bucksport Road finally receded enough on Wednesday for residents to get a first look at their flooded homes. Wednesday. October 3, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

Sandbags stacked two high still surrounded the church, an unfortunately failed attempt to stop the water from entering the building.

Owens, who grew up in the neighborhood, said he has never seen water from the Waccamaw River rise so high.

“Since I was a little boy I remember [the community] would always come together and help in times of need,” Owens said.

Starting next week, members of the church will start to tear out pews and carpet, rebuilding the inside. Owens said the church cannot qualify for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency because they are a public entity.

Instead, they will have to apply for a loan from the Small Business Association.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Owens said.

A chair was placed on the pew of Victoria Chapel Holiness Church in Bucksport, S.C. Flooding did enter the sanctuary and community rooms of the church following Hurricane Florence. Wednesday. October 3, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

Rebecca Sherman, a member of the church, is not only dealing with the loss of her church, but also of her home.

At the intersection of Martin Luther Drive and Mahalia Drive, Sherman walked past sandbags piled five high, wearing a face mask to protect herself from the smell created by stagnant water.

Her home was overtaken by the water, leaving wooden floors buckled, all of the furniture ruined. Family pictures still hang on the walls, a Red Cross blanket folded over the top of couch as a reminder of Hurricane Matthew.

“I just thank the Lord we’re still alive,” Sherman said. “You can replace material things, but you can’t replace a life.”

Rebecca, along with her husband, Roosevelt, and stepson, Roosevelt Jr., are staying with family on Murphy Lane in Conway.

Rebecca Sherman along with her son Jerome Sherman look through the contents of their flooded home of Martin Luther Drive in Bucksport. The Red Cross blanket pictured was a hold over from the flooding of Hurricane Matthew almost two years ago. Wednesday. October 3, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

The family, whose home did not flood in 2016, said the tight-knit community is what will keep them in their home of 25 years.

“We look out for each other,” Rebecca Sherman said.

Much of the community is still displaced from their homes. Several people are sleeping on cots provided by the Red Cross at the James R. Frazier Community Center.

People congregated outside, enjoying the sunny skies and warm weather. A station allowed them to charge their cellphone and computer batteries.

FEMA walked around, giving people an opportunity to submit an application.

“This is going to be a lot,” Denise McCray said. “My motto is you gotta walk by faith. If God brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it.”

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