The home on
But Cooke has
It's what is left inside that brought Cooke to tears when she surveyed the damage on Saturday.
Furniture made from teak wood that her parents bought in
The platinum-rimmed china that belonged to her parents was also washed over by the muddy water.
"I waited for those dishes all my life. I thought we would use it for
The dishes, curio and china cabinets, and a stagecoach steamer trunk were but a handful of her mother's belongings that once were the centerpiece of her home. Cooke noted the unfortunate timing as she wiped tears from her check -- the first anniversary of her mother's death is days away.
Unharmed in the slushy damage was the photo collage of her dog, "Jack," who died during the flood last October. She gratefully hugged the frame close to her chest, but was visibly saddened that photographs of her border collie "Wishbone" had been destroyed. Wishbone died a week after Hurricane Matthew hit.
"Everything I love is gone," Cooke said.
Despite the loss of nearly all of her belongings and family mementos in a home already elevated to escape flooding, Cooke has no intention of abandoning the river life and plans to rebuild even higher.
"I'm a river rat; I'm staying. All of my friends and family live here, all of the neighbors know us, why would I leave?" Cooke said.
Across the street at her neighbors' home, the Schroeder family moved methodically to push every last water-logged belonging out of their home with a different goal in mind -- leaving the river behind and moving to higher ground.
The Schroeders had just finished remodeling their home from last year's flood, but the decorative details and freshly painted walls were no match for the Waccamaw.
The home is already elevated nearly six feet, and the furniture was raised another two feet and placed on paint buckets before the river crested. But their efforts were in vain. The record-setting flood was another 16 inches higher than last year and ruined all of the furniture -- the final straw for the Schroeders.
By noon, their home stood empty. The only hint of their lives remaining were the markings along a bathroom door that noted the growth of their son Robert since 2002.
"We're waiting on
A bonfire blazed in the backyard, as Rod fed the flames all of their furniture and memories they had collected over a lifetime. He pushed a Ponderosa Pine gun cabinet that he had owned since he was a teenager onto the fire, turned his back and walked away.
Meanwhile, a crowd began to gather back at the Cooke's house, where son Dereke, daughter Ashley and their children and friends, began to clear the enormous downed trees and remove furniture from the home in the hopes of salvaging some of the antiques.
"That furniture is solid teak, not that pressed particle junk they sell today,"
Cooke fired up the outdoor grill, and worried whether she bought enough chicken to feed them all.
Despite the destruction all around them, the Cooke family joked about some of the damage that was caused by a masked looter while they were flooded out -- a raccoon that sliced through a window screen and made himself at home.
The muddy paw prints ran from a broken dog treat jar he emptied to a countertop canister he hacked to get at some pecans. He left a trail of empty shells then helped himself to leftover refrigerator contents, gobbling down a bowl of rice and gravy, but turning his nose up at corn.
"Now that's funny,"
Granddaughter Taylor asked her mother Ashley if they still planned on buying a kayak and was told they probably would, next year.
"That way, we can paddle back home, next time," Taylor said.
Replied Ashley: "That's kind of my plan."
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