Ms. Juanita Smith Was born and raised in Columbia. After spending 12 years in Queens, she and her former husband moved back from New York to raise their six children within the comfort and culture of southern living.
Upon their return to Columbia, Mr. Smith took a job at Eastern Airline and later became a school bus driver. Ms. Smith worked long hours at Belk for 30 years, only retiring after succumbing to a variety of health issues. All of their hard work led to the purchasing of their first home together.
Unfortunately the long hours required to provide for their six children eventually fractured their marriage. After a difficult divorce, it took lots of prayer and contributions from friends and family to full Ms. Smith out of her depression. On top of the divorce, Ms. Smith’s oldest child was born with birth defects, leaving her to face severe health issues into her adult life.
Even while facing such difficulties, the faith and strength present in the Smith home has never wavered.
On the night of the storm, Ms. Smith was home with her children and grandchildren. She woke to find her house was in a river and that cars were floating through her backyard. Emergency personnel occupied her neighborhood on rescue boats. Flood water saturated her home up to the knee and even climbed to four feet in some places. After getting out of their home safely, the family cried and prayed as they watched their life’s work, their only mode of transportation and all of their belongings wash away.
Today the floors in their home are eroded and buckling, the foundation has shifted and cracked, the back porch was completely submerged, the crawl space carried standing water, leaks are left in the roof and extreme mold covers the home making it impossible for the family to return – especially considering the health issues Ms. Smith and her oldest daughter suffer from.
After living in a two bed hotel room for two months, they were able to secure more stable housing. However, the financial burden of maintaining two residences hindered Ms. Smith’s ability to make repairs to her family home.
Once her home is repaired, Ms. Smith looks forward to escaping unsafe living conditions to regain her sense of independence and security while building new memories to overcome the ones lost in the flood.
Help Ms. Smith and the 1,200 families still waiting for help at RestoringHopeSC.org.