Debbie Everett and her family waded through nearly knee-high water in her Embassy Lane home Saturday afternoon before they took turns climbing up a ladder to put clothes and toys on the roof to protect them from the rising Waccamaw River.
“I’m exhausted,” Everett said while smoking a cigarette on her back porch. “We did this all day yesterday, through half the night until about 3 a.m. in the morning. Then we all got back up at 6 a.m. trying to get as much up there as we can.”
Everett, 54, has lived in the wood-paneled mobile home since 1998. Her fiancé, daughter, grandsons and brother also live there.
“I can’t think straight,” she said. “It’s sad. I brought up all my kids here.”
Also living with the family are two dogs; Dude, 10, and Angel, 15; two goats; Laverne and Shirley; two turkeys, a rabbit, 10 chickens, two snakes and two Great Pyrenees dogs.
The small minnows swimming in the hallways were uninvited guests.
The Humane Society of the United States helped evacuate most of the animals on Saturday. Everett took the Great Pyrenees to Loris on Friday.
“That’s why we’re behind,” Everett said. “Yesterday it took me four hours to go to Loris and come back. That took a lot of time for me just taking those two dogs up there.”
On Friday, water wasn’t in their house.
By Saturday, it was up a foot-and-a-half and rising higher. The teal couches had already succumbed to the river. The family’s new oven was set up on a table. The bottom of a chandelier was just inches away from the stovetop.
Rain from Hurricane Florence pushed the river level to over 19 feet on Saturday, exceeding the last record of 17.9 feet set in 2016 after Hurricane Matthew. The National Weather Service is predicting a record 22-foot crest on Tuesday.
Flooding during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 brought the river to just inches under her home. Matthew’s floods brought the river more than a foot below. This is the first time water has ever been in the house.
The family started putting their belongings up on shelves on Friday, but by Saturday, they were putting stuff on the roof.
Some things, like ashes from Everett’s deceased mother, father, brother and two sons, as well a video game system, were leaving the house with the family. But she was leaving her furniture and kitchen cutlery up to fate.
“They say it’s going to go up to 22 feet so I don’t know how much more I can save,” she said.
The family followed the animals by evacuating Saturday afternoon.
They were going to stay at the Midtown Inn and Cottages in Myrtle Beach in the short-term.
Long-term, Everett didn’t have a plan.
“I don’t have homeowner’s insurance,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”