Linda Hill has just completed another year of SoCS! Congratulations and thank you for all your hard work making these prompts available to all of us. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year, Linda. Want to join in on SoCS? Head over to Linda’s blog to get the scoop on how to participate.
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “new/knew.’” Use one, use both, use them any way you like. Bonus points if you use both. Enjoy!
Thursday, before we left Charleston, we decided to drive by the location where my husband’s mother had her condo. First a little background.
Mom lived in an area known as West Ashley in Charleston. This place brought her the greatest joy and the most pain of her life. When she moved back into Charleston, she chose and decorated her condo with pride, having no way of knowing what would lie ahead. She loved to entertain and we visited her there often.
Charleston itself is only 3ft above sea level. Stormwater runoff and drainage has always been a challenge, especially considering how much the city has grown in recent years. (It is estimated 33 people per day move to Charleston.) Add to that the fact the city is surrounded by bodies of water, well, the flooding potential is great.
Things went well for years. Then new subdivisions were built behind Mom’s subdivision. So many houses, condos, etc., all to support the increased demand for housing. Was the drainage implemented by the city’s urban planners designed correctly and was it adequate?
One night, they went to bed, and the next morning woke to find at least a foot of water throughout the condo. This was the first of four floods she experienced and this one was the least impactful.
All in all, Mom survived four floods on her property. Each time the damage was worse, and the losses more. They had to be rescued at least once by the fire department. The flood waters rose quickly. Every time it rained, she paced the floor wringing her hands in fear. The high water mark was 36 inches from the floor.
When the condos were new, I wonder if someone anticipated the future and was hushed or if they kept their concerns to themselves. I wonder if the city planners knew when they approved the inadequate drainage and authorized new construction in such a low lying area what the flooding potential was.
These floods broke her. I have vivid memories of sitting in her front yard in lawn chairs while a lifetime of belongings were paraded out in front of her, an 84 year old woman, for her to approve them being thrown into a dumpster. Very little of her belongings could be salvaged. Flood waters are not clear water, they are dangerous and contaminated water often containing gas and diesel, raw sewage, bacteria, and pesticides. It was heartbreaking.
Eventually after years and years of fighting, FEMA and the city bought all the properties and demolished them – it was not enough money to find a new place to move, though. Mom got her settlement the month she passed away. A sad end to a long and heartbreaking fight.
Now, other than the broken lamppost and the abandoned electrical boxes, you would never know anyone ever lived there.