Many Roanoke families are still reeling from Hurricane Michael’s destruction Thursday, especially in the Riverwalk apartment complex, where 42 units took on water. Residents report losing things like wedding gowns, electronics, pictures, and more, but for the Edmonds family, nearly nothing is left.
Many residents say that the sewage backed up during the flooding, so the residue that’s caked on every interior surface isn’t just wet dirt.
“When he said that it’s gone, my heart fell in my stomach,” said Kiana Edmonds.
She and her husband, Sam, are in their mid-20s with kids ages 7, 6, and 2 – aside from a single toy, some books, a family photo, and a few sets of clothes, every possession they owned was lost in Thursday’s flooding.
You can still see the water line on the walls and front door.
“Just like we were sitting watching the Eagles game and just to come back and your life is literally in pieces in front of you,” she said. “From one second you think you have everything, and then you come back the next day and everything’s gone,” he said.
Sam explains that, within two minutes of finally being told to evacuate, the electricity went out, at which point he started fearing for the lives of his family.
“I try not to go back to that time when he says ‘mommy can you save me?’ I don’t want to see that. I don’t like to hear that,” he said. “That still rings in my ears – ‘save me, mommy, save me!’, she said. “Those were the last words we heard before boom, the lights cut off,” he said.
Sam, Kiana, and their three children are currently staying with Sam’s family, but say they are having to take life a step at a time – Sam is currently building a start-up, whose t-shirt design was literally washed away in the storm.
The two say that, despite the extreme damage, they are required to pay out their lease after a one-month reconstruction period.
“I’m hoping this is the last time we have to see this place because it does bring back memories, and that’s all we have left – those things that we had in there,” he said. “That was my safe place. That was my safe place. Get off of work and look forward to coming home and being with the kids, and now we have nothing,” she said.
They say that Riverwalk’s management responded coldly to the situation – they were unavailable in person or by phone over the weekend, and sent out only two brief emails obtained by WFXR.
One, sent out the day after the flooding, reads that “only” 42 units were affected and tells residents that Riverwalk is not responsible for any losses.
Riverwalk tells WFXR they are unable to answer questions until Wednesday.
Sam and Kiana prefer to look at the bright side.
“No matter how bad those circumstances are, don’t let that circumstance dictate who you are. So I always like to smile and keep a ‘grinding face’ on, as I say,” he said.
He says that a close friend set up a GoFundMe page to help with his family’s relocation, and that he has been stunned with the support from friends, family, and especially Cave Spring Middle School, where he coaches football.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to be okay,” he said.
Kiana says that she and her husband were actually displaced by house fires as teenagers, but that the flooding is still devastating with small children.
While they have done their best to shield their kids from the tragedy of the situation, they say they do not know how either Halloween or an upcoming birthday will look.
Kiana and Sam are hoping to raise $5,000 to help pay for a new apartment and school clothes for their kids.
If you would like to help, click here.