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From Home Furnishing Business

Holding Home Close

Disasters bring into focus the importance of home, friends and kindness.


by Sheila Long O’mara


Home. Just saying the word conjures up all sorts of connotations for people.

No matter if home is a one bedroom, basement apartment or a $5 million home on the perfect ocean-front lot, home is, well, were the proverbial heart is.

During the time since we published the last issue of Home Furnishings Business, my adopted home of Columbia, S.C., has had some troubles.

We found our way into the national weather spotlight the first weekend of October—the same weekend Hurricane Joaquin trailed off the eastern shoreline of the Carolinas. The tropical weather from the hurricane teamed up with a wicked non-tropical system to serve up a heavy dose of rain on our already saturated ground.

The 18 inches of rain that fell in 24 hours followed on the heels of nearly two weeks of straight rain. Columbia seemed like ground zero. The rains fell, and dams in the area were breached or gave way, sending waves of water into homes and stores and wiping out bridges and roads. Seventeen people died as a result of the flood or weather-related automobile accidents.

The O’Mara home was safe and dry, but as is the case in many weather disasters, those with the least to lose lost the most during the historic flood.

Schools were closed for a week, and then delayed for two additional weeks while bus routes were redrawn and schools used as shelters for those displaced.

The three youngest O’Maras, possibly bored from hanging out at home or perhaps, out of the goodness of their hearts, started asking what now.  Loaded with water, work gloves and boots, we headed out. We weren’t sure where we were going only that we needed to go do something.

I learned that in such times of need, it doesn’t take long to find someone, somewhere that could use a helping hand. For us, it was neighborhood that had been underwater. With the water receded, demoliton was underway. My guys are really good at tearing up stuff, so a rainy day ripping out soggy sheetrock was pitch perfect. Stories were swapped about the rain, the flood and the kindness of strangers from all over and what happens next.

The next is well underway here as families continue to rebuild and recover from the damage and loss. Organizations throughout the state continue to provide much needed supplies and assistance to those in need.

Looking to help? The American Red Cross is a great organization in such disasters.

On a completely unrelated but much happier note —Amy Kyle, the former publisher and my co-founder of this magazine, had a celebration of monumental proportions Oct. 3. Her daughter Sidney Sikes, now Sidney Sikes Wolfe, married her high school sweetheart, Gray Wolfe, in the most perfect of ceremonies in Trinity, N.C.

Congratulations and best wishes for a beautiful life together!


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