It was Monday afternoon, as the waters continued to creep up in neighborhoods around her, when Jodi Schleichardt decided she had to do something.
Forecasts for floodwaters near her Socastee home were inching too close for comfort.
By late Monday, sandbags were going up around her house. Belongings were being piled on beds so they would be out of the path of floodwaters. Her two kids – ages 3 and 6 and already out of their daily routines with schools closed since Sept. 11 – were sent to stay in the comfort and safety of their grandmother’s house in Myrtle Beach.
“This is how we are living right now,” Jodi said of herself and her husband, showing a photo of their belongings stacked on a bed. “I don’t want my kids sitting there going through that trauma.”
Jodi, an RN case manager at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, is among a number of employee partners at Tidelands Health who have been directly affected by the unprecedented floodwaters brought on by Hurricane Florence. Some have scrambled to prepare their homes or pack up everything and leave. Others, knowing roads on their daily commutes are closed because of floodwaters, have started bunking with buddies to ensure they can still get to work.
“Everybody is just rolling with the punches,” said Nathan Mattox, clinical director of the critical care unit at Tidelands Waccamaw. “Everybody is like, ‘We will get through this.’ “
Through all the challenges in recent weeks, Tidelands Health teammates have sacrificed and helped each other so the health system can continue to serve the community by providing needed medical care. They are switching shifts, offering to have co-workers stay at their houses, helping stack sandbags to protect other employee partners’ homes and more.
“It’s what we do,” registered nurse Jackie DuVall said matter-of-factly. “We are a team.”
Jackie, who lives about five miles from Tidelands Waccamaw, has picked up shifts and lent out an air mattress so an employee partner could crash at another co-worker’s house. With her house not threatened by floodwaters, Jackie said she’s happy to pick up shifts to cover for others dealing directly with flooding.
“I have no problem getting here,” she said. “I’d much rather come in and do this because I can go home to my bed.”
Getting home to Galivants Ferry – already an hour-long commute on a regular day – would have been a challenge the past few nights for Amber Reynolds, a nurse who just returned to the flooded county from a cruise vacation.
Hearing her concerns about traveling back and forth, nurse Tonya Clayton offered one of her spare rooms in her home off S.C. 707. One catch – there’s no bed in that room. Jackie quickly arranged for her daughters to drop off an air mattress before the end of the day for Amber to use.
Tonya and Amber, longtime friends, have been making it a girls’ night – they even went out for dinner one evening.
“I don’t really consider it a sacrifice,” Tonya said,” just taking care of friends.”
While she’s grateful for her teammates’ help, Amber misses seeing her husband and six sons.
“It’s hard, but I know they are OK and being taken care of,” Amber said.
The willingness of her co-workers to cover shifts and lend a sympathetic ear has made this stress-filled week just a bit easier for Jodi, who has watched the waters rise closer to her home.
“Now I have a creek in my front yard,” she said. “We are watching it creep up, and it keeps getting higher and higher. It’s scary.”
Co-workers pitched in so Jodi could leave work a tad early Monday to rush home and start elevating her belongings inside the house. They switched shifts so she could be off work Tuesday and Wednesday to continue preparing in advance of the potential floodwaters. As long as the water doesn’t reach 24 feet, her house should be OK.
Everyone is hoping the floodwaters don’t get that high. But if they do, employee partners will likely be among the first to offer a helping hand.
“They’ve been very accommodating,” said Jodi, who was back at work Thursday. “When you are here, you try not to think about it. But it’s still stressful.”