Columbia residents come together to clean up, dry out

Posted October 6, 2015 4:55 p.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2015 6:48 p.m. EDT

As the sun came out in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday and people ventured outdoors, they began to understand the impact of the flooding.

Many roads are still blocked off. Some are washed away by water or covered by fallen trees, and the state wants to safety test every one before opening them to traffic, Gov. Nikki Haley said.

More than a dozen dams were breached statewide, and others are vulnerable as the water flows downstream from mid-state to the coast, Haley said.

"The next 36 to 48 hours are going to be a time that we need to continue to be careful," she said.

While residents watched and waited Tuesday, they worked.

Kevin Varnadore and some buddies went door-to-door, offering help to those who needed it.

They hauled water-warped furniture, soaked linens and anything and everything out of homes that saw water levels reach the roof.

Varnadore said his neighbors were "shocked and appreciative" for the help.

"We don't know their names most of the times. We try to get in and out," he said. "At least they know they're not going at this by themselves."

As Jones Andrews surveyed his belonging arrayed on his front lawn, he couldn't help but smile.

"It's just a little overwhelming," Andrews said, "but what's so great about this is you see all these people coming to help. They just showed up."

Andrews' home was caked with mud on the floor and smelled of muck, but the rooms were packed with people pitching in.

"I'm sure if you go to many other neighborhoods surrounding us, they're all doing the same thing," Andrews said. "It's people looking out for people."

In Lauren Johnson's neighborhood, it is a classic case of water everywhere and not a drop to drink. When historic floods swamped homes, breached dams and topped river banks, they left clean, running water in high demand.

"I saved up a little at the house, but I had no idea the canal was going to get breached," said Johnson.

On Tuesday, she made the trek to her mother-in-law's house, one of many submerged by stunning floodwaters.

"We're just heading over there to see what we can salvage at this point," she said.

Along the way, she spotted a little girl with a poster advertising free water.

There, a group of Johnson's neighbors were standing next to a U-Haul handing out free cases of water.