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Evacuees calm: This is not the first time

September 23, 2018

COWARD, S.C. – Resignation seemed to hang in the air outside the Coward Recreation and Community Center on Saturday afternoon.

Leo McKnight, who was evacuated from his home along the Lynches River, said he was not nervous about the flooding or the potential destruction of or damage to his property.

“We done been through it two or three times,” He said. ’If it goes, it goes.”

He explained that he shared a house with his son-in-law, Jonathan, his stepdaughter, Lenora, and his wife. They live just off Old No. 4 Highway. Their home is around 300 yards from the Lynches River.

“If we lose everything, I guess we’ll buy new stuff,” Jonathan added.

The family was among those forced to evacuate their homes along the Lynches River by an evacuation order from Florence County Emergency Management Friday afternoon.

Jonathan said he was at work when the evacuation order came. Lenora called him and told him that the authorities were getting ready to close a bridge they use to access their home.

“I was like, ’OK, how am I going to get home?” Crowley asked himself.

The family evacuated to the Coward Community and Recreation Center on Friday and spent the night there. They remained there with no idea how long it would be before they could return home Saturday afternoon.

Samuel Hawkins was another evacuee staying at the community center. He came to the shelter on Friday from the Effingham area.

He also said he wasn’t nervous about the flooding.

“This is not the first time,” He said. “We live in a flooded area. I’m 56 years old and we’ve been in and out for a while. I’m kind of used to it now.”

The community center was one of four shelters opened by Florence County Emergency Management and run by the American Red Cross for people being evacuated from their homes along the Lynches River on Friday. The other shelters were the Johnsonville First Baptist Church, the STARS Gym in Florence, and the Mount Clair Missionary Baptist Church in Lake City.

The Lynches River is around 140 miles in length and runs from the Waxhaws area on the border of North and South Carolina to Johnsonville where it empties into the Great Pee Dee River. Due to its location, the river and its tributaries received tremendous amounts of rainwater and runoff from Hurricane Florence. The water must make its way from inland to the Atlantic Ocean, which creates flooding along the river’s path.

The flooding along the Lynches River was expected to crest Saturday at 17.1 in Effingham, according to information from the National Weather Service.

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