Flashback: Harvey brings back flood of memories in the Midlands - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Flashback: Harvey brings back flood of memories in the Midlands

Flooding was widespread in the area. (WIS-TV) Flooding was widespread in the area. (WIS-TV)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

He’d spent much of his life as a leader of the Midlands business community.

But in October 2015, former steel company executive Sam Tenenbaum found himself forced to lead a rescue effort as floodwaters rose around his home in Lexington County.

With his wife Inez and two dogs on board, Tenenbaum towed a kayak to higher ground. Inez Tenenbaum is a lawyer, former state education superintendent and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman.

The escape left the couple with nothing but their wallets, checkbook and cell phones for several days until the water receded. Sam Tenenbaum says watching the flood disaster unfolding in Texas over the weekend gave him a flashback to 2015.

“My God, this is happening. The same thing that happened to us,” he said.

The weather system that dropped at least 15 inches of rain in less than 24 hours on South Carolina left hundreds of other families in difficult and often dangerous situations.

At least 17 people died statewide. In the Columbia area, hundreds of homes sustained heavy damage. Some remain uninhabitable and abandoned to this day.

They include those on Timberlane Drive near Gills Creek, which is still boarded up and in many cases surrounded by weeks so thick the houses are barely visible from the roadway.

MORE: See photos of the Midlands before and after the historic floods of October 2015. 

Some of the area’s most upscale homes around Lake Katherine suffered serious damage. Since the flood, many have been reconstructed and raised off their foundations by as much as 10 feet.

Homeowner Andy Slaughter had to have significant repairs done on his house. He remembers an outpouring of concern from relatives and neighbors, some of them working to rescue Slaughter, his wife, and three children by boat after the water entered their home.

But he says it turned out to be a learning experience.

“There are a lot of good people still in this world,” Slaughter said.

“For all the things that are going on today with all the trouble that’s going around, the neighborhood, the city, and the state really came together,” he said. “It’s very humbling.”

The Columbia area is still working to clean up the wreckage and renovate flood damaged homes, nearly two years later.  Dozens of condemned houses remain and will be torn down using money from FEMA grants.

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