NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – One year after the Horry County wildfire, much has returned to normal in the Barefoot community of North Myrtle Beach.
The wildfire destroyed 76 homes and damaged almost 100 more. Most of those homes were in the Barefoot area.
In the months after the wildfire, homeowners faced the daunting task of rebuilding their lives and their homes. As each home was rebuilt, people in the area say the community grew closer.
"It's something you don't think will ever happen to you," explained Dan Rod, the first homeowner to move back into the Barefoot area and into a completely rebuilt home. "We all went through the same experience together. We helped each other, helped each other with the cleanup process, with the rebuilding process. Before, you just waved to people to say hi. Now you know them a lot better than you did before."
According to the South Carolina Forestry Commission, 2,500 people had to evacuate their homes during this fire.
Roger LaCourse was one of the evacuees.
"I don't think you ever forget it," explained LaCourse. "My wife woke me up, and of course Watertower Road was ablaze. My back fence was on fire. My trees were on fire. My neighbor's house was on fire. So we just grabbed the dog and ran out the door."
LaCourse's home was severely damaged in the fire. However, he says he was lucky and didn't lose everything like the family pictures and mementos that many other families will never get back.
He says the neighborhood has drawn even closer in the days after the wildfire as they worked to rebuild their lives and the community.
"We just moved on, and said, 'It's past us.' So we're moving forward. The whole Barefoot community after that fire really reached out," said LaCourse.