Well before hurricane force winds began howling through the small coastal town of St. Marks the power was out and the waters were rising.
“It was really bad,” Denise Waters said. Waters owns Sweet Magnolia Bed and Breakfast. She had guests sleeping upstairs when the sandbags placed strategically at the front and back doors failed.
“The water just came rushing in,” Waters said.
Down the street more sandbags failed, more businesses flooded.
“It was a long night buddy,” Danny Sellers is the manager of the Cooter Stew Cafe. Once flood waters receded he left his flooded home and began cleaning up the restaurant.
“We gotta get cleaned up so we can open up and try and make some money,” Sellers said with a proud smile.
Across the street from Sellers an exhausted Larry Brown sat on the front stoop of of the Stop and Shop with Miss Joy. Blood oozing down his right arm Brown walked out with a mop full of dirty water.
“I’m getting too old for this,” he said. “We’ve been here 52 years and I can remember 9 hurricanes,” Brown said.
As the eye made landfall just east of St. Marks Brown waited for the unknown.
“it was just nasty, and we didn't know whether it was going to come down on us or what was going to happen. Boy, I wish we weren't in the damn eye of this one. We didn't know whether to run or stay so we stuck it out.”
Sticking it out is what locals say they have to do despite the risks.
“This is everything we own. We have to protect it Brown said.
As residents cleared debris, swept water out of their businesses and homes the sun came out. The first bright spot of a dark, lonely night.
“We are always going to rebuild and stay this is home,” Brown said.