Columbia, SC - Last year, families living along Kilbourne Road were packing up and moving out as flood waters destroyed their homes. On Sunday, almost one year later since the flood, they are looking forward by looking back.
"It's such a pretty day, quite a bit different than last year," said Charlie Vassy, an attendee of the neighborhood gathering. "Last year it was awful."
Vassy says the houses in the Kilbourne Road area were completely underwater.
"I stood down at the end of the street and for the first time in my life, it was the most helpless feeling," Vassy said. "I could see the water creeping very slowly, you didn't know when it was going to stop."
It was a night the families still remember vividly.
"I saw the water was getting really high and I woke up my husband and I thought, 'maybe we should go check the levels,'" remembered Elizabeth Reading, another attendee, "and sure enough, the back door burst open and our house started flooding."
"When we left, the water was between our ankles and our knees and when we went out into the yard, it was to my husband's waist and to my shoulders," said Cynthia Pierce, another attendee.
"I saw wonderful people, adults, elderly people, sitting on the wet ground in their wet clothes just crying," Vassy remembered.
Unlike last year, Sunday was not about sadness, it was about tea, snacks, and fellowship.
"We're all good friends and I have cried and I have prayed and thanked them so many times," said Gloria Wilson, another attendee.
After the flood destroyed most of their homes, the families in this tight knit neighborhood leaned on each other to pick up the pieces.
"We could not have gotten to where we are without the support of family and friends and strangers," Pierce said.
They decided to get together in their old stomping grounds to reflect on the past year.
"We just wanted to find out how everybody was, get a little update," Vassy explained.
Elizabeth Reading, an attendee who previously lived in a house on the same street as the gathering, even placed decorations by her old house.
"We brought some pumpkins today just to make the house look a little bit loved and make it not look so vacant," Reading said.
In the end, this community is stronger than any force of nature.
"Last year it was awful," Vassy said, "but we made it. There is an end to it and you're a stronger person for it. Much wiser."
Many of the families who had to leave are now just hoping to be able to sell their homes.
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