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Stoney Creek Plantation Residents Come Together After Hurricane Florence Devastation

by | Oct 3, 2018 | Brunswick County Life, North Brunswick

Randi Jo Rooks is a woman of faith. “I see God in every detail,” she says. “Especially with Hurricane Florence.” These days she’s praying that God’s love proves greater than the devastation that turned Stoney Creek Plantation in Leland into an island — stranding neighbors in need of rescue and flooding 44 homes beyond repair. 

“As awful as all this is,” Rooks says, “my heart is full.” 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Matt McGraw

Just prior to the storm, Rooks and her husband had a sudden urge to list their home for sale. “We took out 50 percent of our personal belongings and stored them in the attic,” she says. “Truly, we were perfectly positioned to help others. Because we were provided for, we could then provide for others.” 

The Rooks family decided to evacuate before Florence hit. Recalling their evacuation decision, Rooks cites the storm surge map instead of the flood map. “The storm surge map showed the whole neighborhood would flood,” she says. For some reason, the flood map didn’t reflect that potential.

“We have a lot of questions about the flood map data,” says Rooks. “I don’t think it includes new construction like Interstate 140 or the Circle K.  Even though our flood wasn’t because of the surge, I’m so grateful for the surge map we found and how it warned us.” 

In the end, the majority of homes that flooded were not considered to be in a flood zone so the homeowners did not have flood insurance. 228,000 gallons of sewage also back-flowed into the neighborhood and houses when a pump two doors down from the Rooks’ residence was overtaken by the flood as well. 

As Highway 17 turned from road to water, flash flooding endangered those who stayed. At the height of the chaos, the neighborhood became an island; as flooded roads became impassable, finding one’s way to safety became virtually impossible. 

From her family’s home in New Jersey, Rooks kept pace with the neighborhood’s active Stoney Creek Residents Facebook page — despite power outages and shoddy cell service in Stoney Creek, people were able to post in the early morning hours between 3 and 5 a.m. Addresses of those who stayed, pictures of houses and changing conditions, names and phone numbers filled the steady feed. Residents kept roll calling by street, communicating which neighbors they knew had not evacuated and that list was passed on to the Missouri Task Force, who’d set up camp at the Town of Leland Town Hall. There were 23 rescues in the neighborhood by the Missouri Task Force and Rooks’ in absentia premonitions furthered the cause.

On Saturday the 15th, around 5 a.m., the Lord woke me with a shot,” she says. “I just knew something was wrong.”

She posted something on Facebook like, ‘Thinking of everyone, wondering if everyone’s OK … ’ And the comments started rolling in. 

“Tom has 3 feet of water in the house and needs help!,” a neighbor’s family wrote. 

Chris Jackson who lives 4 streets up from Tom, saw the comment and got into his boat and rescued Tom, his daughter and pets from their 1st story roof. Tom’s home, and numerous others would end up with as much as 7 feet of water in them.

“As much as I gripe about social media,” Rooks says, “it worked miracles during the storm.” 

Volleying posts and replies from New Jersey, Rooks cites a work-from-home situation, her husband’s remote office and a homeschool setup as key for evacuation. During evacuation, one of her daughters tried to complete a school assignment about home and hometowns. 

“The question asked about your house, where you lived. My sweet little girl asked, so innocent, “Mommy, where do I live?” 

“‘You live with your family,’ I told her,” says Rooks, her voice thickening. ‘Home is where your family is.’”

The residents of Stoney Creek Plantation have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and assistance. And Rooks wants people to know that her neighborhood is standing strong. “There are a lot of pictures of us being stuck, but I really want to show people that we’re people, you know? We’re displaced people, but we’re also survivors.” 

Stoney Creek Plantation Leland

And now there’s the long road to recovery. “Everyone’s been so helpful with the sprint portion of the storm, but to truly heal, it’s going to be a marathon.” 

While donated goods have been so appreciated, there are no homes to house things yet. In lieu of tangible donations, Rooks feels the community most needs monetary assistance. 

Want to help?

Through fundraisers and a Stoney Creek Hurricane Relief Fund, Lifepoint Church has become the hub for monetary donations. 

To pledge your support click here. Click “Give Online Now” and scroll under Fund – Stoney Creek Hurricane Relief.  Donations are then dispersed to the Stoney Creek Plantation community. 

Sponsored by ATMC
Sponsored by ATMC

About The Author

Jamie Lynn Miller

As a teacher, writer and podcaster, she enjoys well-crafted communication. Jamie doesn't like crafting her own bio but, fortunately, Facebook friends had a few suggestions: “Space cowboy with a knack for sparkling prose." "Likes witty conversations while wearing vintage button downs — with a smile." "Boxer, sailor with humor as my compass and a sharp left hook." "Lover of rainbow clogs, raincoats and places without cell reception.”

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