Nothing prepares you to receive that text. Not poring over the news. Not obsessively watching the weather. That was at 3:44 pm on September 11, 2017. Over the next twelve hours, the water continued to rise. This was the worst flooding Middleburg, Florida, had seen in over 100 years, with Black Creek swelling 28.5 feet above normal.
The community was entirely unprepared. Families were stranded in their homes with no means of escape as the waters rushed in. My brothers, Nyk and Clayton, and a group of others gathered the boats they had and began rowing their neighbors to safety.
Texts from Clayton:
“I never would have thought it would get that high. It’s crazy. It was weird going down the creek after those people today. Rowing over people’s fences and plants.”
Even more difficult was rescuing Mama and Daddy (Debbie and Harry Peppard). The water was rising 6 inches an hour in the house they had owned for 30 years. A lifetime of memories, scrawled pictures from grandbabies, and the home where they had raised their children. When Black Creek finally crested, over two feet of water stood in their home. Everything it had touched was ruined, including a box of family photographs, some black and white from Mama’s childhood and her mother’s childhood.
The most difficult part was hearing Daddy’s heart break as he watched his years of hard work be destroyed. He had just finished laying the new floors that replaced the original carpet and its well-worn paths made by children’s feet. The bathroom he had renovated to Mama’s exacting specifications was now covered with the backed-up contents of the toilets mixed with creek waters. Nothing can describe that feeling of loss.
I (Kristi (Peppard) Sargent) created this GoFundMe account for two reasons. The first one is obvious: Our parents need a place to live. The second one though… Nyk, Casey, Clayton and I can’t watch Daddy try to piece this back together with blood and tears. He and Mama have given so much; sacrificed so much. It is our turn as their children to try to make this right for them, just like they placed band-aids and rushed us to the ER when necessary. Any help you can offer is so gratefully appreciated.
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