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Communities continue to rebuild four years after the October 2015 floods

It's been four years since the devastating floods of 2015 but people are getting back on their feet when they almost lost everything

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Families affected by the flooding in 2015 continue to rebuild and restore normality four years later. 

Imagine waking up and seeing your home surrounded by water; That was reality for many families at Lake Katherine.

Chris Stormer wasn't home when the flooding started. He was in Clemson the night before watching the Tigers play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Death Valley.

After he got back to the hotel and slept for two hours, he got a phone call.

"My wife was panicking because the water was starting to come into the house and that sort of thing. She was like, 'What do I do? What do I do?,'" Stormer said. 

Credit: Donna Oliphant

While he rushed back home, a neighbor, Elliott Powell, was there to save his wife and daughter.

"Our friend across the lake came over and pulled their boat right up to our back door. That was a huge deal. Having Elliott come over. He got them out of a danger and that was a whole lot of peace of mind for me," Stormer said. 

Powell remembers waking up that morning and seeing more flooding than he has ever seen in his entire life. While the water was high, fortunately his home escaped harm’s way.

"I feel like God had a plan for me that day and it didn't include my house getting flooded. Mine was to help other people," said Powell.

Powell has been living on the lake for 30 years so he knew the land and the community well. He used his boat and canoe to take his neighbors to safety.

"I was able to drive right up to people's houses in the boat and they could get right on from their upstairs floor or climb up into the boat,” said Powell.

Powell said with the help from his youngest son, they were able to rescue around 20 people and countless pets. Other neighbors in the Lake Katherine area that were able, decided to take their boats and help out as well.

Credit: Chris Stormer

After the storm settled, it wasn't over for the Stormer family. They had to deal with the damage to their house.

"Light sockets down, the water got up just above the light sockets. You had to cut the walls two or three feet above the water line and of course all the floors were coming up and all that sort of stuff. All the furniture was out in the street. It was all ruined," Stormer said.

Credit: Chris Stormer

Like many others who lived on Lake Katherine, many had to throw out their possessions on the front lawn and figure out how to start over.

With their home not being in livable condition, the Stormers had to move downtown for about a year so they could rebuild the place they once called home.

Chris said he used this as a learning moment for his family.

"It was an opportunity to show my daughter how to come back from something that was a little curve ball thrown your way,” said Stormer. “She was a senior in high school. She wasn't exactly thrilled about moving her senior year."

Four years later, they're almost back to 100 percent and are now back in their home.

Credit: WLTX

Stormer and Powell both say the biggest thing they can take away from the October Floods is the community.

"You know, they were helping you cleanout the mess,” said Stormer. “They were helping you figure out where you were going to live. They were bringing you food. They really showed up. It was pretty cool."

Powell explained, "People truly do have good moral character and they don't turn their back when someone needs help. We just love each other. We pray for each other. It's just another example of how we do things here in Columbia. It's who we are."