A New Home for the Holidays After the Flood

Dec 17, 2015

Many in Columbia braced for what was later called the storm of the century, but in the Gills Creek neighborhood, fast action saved lives.  Like many of their neighbors in the Gills Creek area, the damage was bad enough that Mike Parker and his family won’t be able to rebuild.

According to FEMA, more than 250 families won't be able to get back into their homes for more than 90 days after the initial flood.

Columbia resident Mike Parker used to live in a neighborhood near Gills Creek. On Saturday, October 3rd, he and his wife went to bed nervous but hopeful that the coming rain wouldn’t be too bad. Parker says it was an emergency alert that woke him and his wife, just in time. They packed what they could and fled through the backyard. That night they stayed with friends. Over the next few days, as they worked with volunteer teams to haul ruined furniture and sheetrock out of the house, the Parkers decided their only option was to move. South Carolina Public Radio’s Laura Hunsberger has this story.

In early November, a team from SC Public Radio and a camera crew from ETV met Mike Parker at his former home, now damaged from the October floods. NPR’s Morning Edition interviewed Parker in the days following the flood, and our team had a chance to hear his story and how he’s doing now.

From the Reporter’s Desk

Our team first got in contact with Mike Parker and his family during the first days of the October floods. He talked about waking up to a flood warning on his phone, possibly one of the many sent out through our agency’s towers (SCETV Manages 14 NOAA Weather Transmitters that send out alerts). It was sobering to think that just one alert made the difference in whether he and his family made it out in time. They had to go out through the backyard, carrying their dogs over the back fence to get to safety.

On October 4, we connected NPR with Mike Parker to hear about his experience. The story was featured in a Morning Edition piece by hosts David Greene and Renee Montagne on October 5.

http://www.npr.org/2015/10/05/445943637/severe-flooding-inundates-south-carolina

Our news team has kept in touch with Mike Parker and his family. We’ve interviewed him twice since the first days of the flood. Shari Hutchinson and a camera team went out to his home in early November to survey the damage and hear his story in more detail. I caught up with him in early December to hear how his family is doing now that they are settling into a new home. We’ll be keeping in touch with the Parker family in the months to come.  Through insurance, FEMA aid, and an SBA loan, as well as crowdfunding organized by friends and family, the Parkers are doing OK. But for many impacted families, the work of rebuilding (homes and lives) is just beginning. According to FEMA, more than 250 families won’t be able to get back into their homes for more than 90 days after the initial flood.