• SC families still suffering weeks after historic floods

    By: Greg Suskin


    COLUMBIA, S.C. - Many families are still homeless and relief efforts are still in full swing more than two weeks after floodwaters did billions of dollars in damage in South Carolina.

    Federal Emergency Management Agency still has more than 1,200 people on the ground in places like Glenhaven Drive in Columbia.  The homes on the street are mostly empty but the yards are full, stacked with debris.

    Everything from furniture, to clothing, to a grandfather clock rests on the ground in the sun.

    Kimberly Sonnnenfeld stood near her TV that was covered in mud, upside down in the grass.

    She was awakened to a crackling sound early on Oct. 4.

    "I stepped out of the bed and I was in 6 to 8 inches of water," she said. "By the time I got to the garage, it was three feet of water."

    She managed to grab her dogs and wade across the street to higher ground. She saw emergency crews with boats and rope and knew there was no going back.

    The water was above her roof in about 45 minutes and the water line on the chimney is still visible.

    On Thursday, FEMA officials took Channel 9 into her home. All that's left are the studs and the sheetrock was ripped out by the flood, which submerged her house for 20 hours.

    Sonnenfeld is now staying with a friend who lost her husband in the flood. He drowned in his car only a few blocks away.

    Houses remain abandoned, boarded up and many are marked as unsafe to enter.

    Click to play video from Chopper 9 over the SC flood:

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    Numerous disaster relief agencies are still there, including FEMA, which is urging people to register for assistance.

    They'll be there as long as need, FEMA spokesperson Ken Higginbotham said.

    "It's taking many people, and many people are pitching in to get people back on the road to recovery," he said.

    FEMA officials said Thursday that 62,000 people have registered for disaster assistance.

    Nearly $46 million has been approved for that relief and 365 inspectors are still in the field, working.

    How to Help SC:

    Phone Numbers to volunteer:

    • Charleston – 843-764-2323 x321
    • Columbia – 803-508-5251
    • Myrtle Beach – 843-764-2323 x321
    • Upstate – 864-270-9575

    Make a Donation:

    Make a contribution to Salvation Army

    Make a contribution to Samaritan's Purse

    Make a contribution to American Red Cross Disaster Relief or at 1-800-REDCROSS

    Red Cross Shelters in SC

    Across from Sonnenfeld's home, is a huge collection of donated items that looks like a general store.  Everything is free for flood victims.

    Volunteers have laid out boxes of clothes and other items. Rita Shipman volunteers there all day, every day.

    "People just show up and bring stuff,” Shipman said. “It amazes me, seeing the generosity of people.”

    She lives in the Forest Acres neighborhood, which was devastated by floods as well. Her house was spared.

    "It just makes me thankful for what I have," she said.

    It's not clear if many homes can be rebuilt as they were or if the flood will change the requirements.

    For some families it may be too hard to come back.

    "I know a lot of people who want to come back. I know a lot of people that don't," Sonnenfeld said.

    FEMA does not have the total number of homes damaged or destroyed, because they are still going door to door doing inspections across the state.

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