"Inundated" - A visual journey through historic flooding in 2015

September 29, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


Not long after light broke on the morning of October 5 of last year, I pulled a u-turn at Harden and Gervais streets. On assignment for Getty Images, I followed a rescue boat figuring that there’s only one place a boat is headed during 20 inches of rain. It led me to the parking lot of Bojangles on Fort Jackson Blvd. - near the Gamecock BiLo where a man and his two kids had been stranded in floodwaters from Gills Creek.


Flood 27779Flood 27779COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 4: Charlene Stennis takes her son Christian Hoo-Fong from a fireman after being stranded in a vehicle by flood water October 4, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. The state of South Carolina is experiencing record rainfall amounts. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)


Another boat was bringing them to safety when I took cover from the rain under an awning of an insurance business. When I arrived there were two other folks who had the same idea: a first responder and the mother of the two children being saved, Charlene Stennis. She looked at me and said, “Take a picture of my babies!” in a concerned but social manner. I followed her into the rain as she bolted to greet her children.


Flood 28574Flood 28574COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 4: A man kayaks on Tall Pines Circle October 4, 2015 in Columbia, South CarolinThe state of South Carolina experienced record rainfall amounts over the weekend. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)


Afterwards, we’d all end up inside the Bojangles. Our respite from the storm was better than most. The first responders made sure the family was alright and someone brought them breakfast as they dried off and I edited the images on my laptop at a nearby table. The power went on and off and the windows of neighboring businesses exploded as employees and customers attempted to take in the moment.

Our windows fogged up and eventually it became difficult to see outside.

When the family finished up their food I walked over, collected their names and filed my images. That scene on Fort Jackson Blvd. would be the way much of the world would first see what 20 inches of rain was doing to Columbia, SC. The images would run on the front pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.


Flood day 8 36625Flood day 8 36625Photos by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford


For the next seven days I’d pull doubles while embracing my personal curiosities to find and show what happened as the water receded in the midlands and made it’s way to the coast. I learned that the National Guard will not physically stop you from driving past a roadblock during a flood disaster. I learned that all the snakes and bugs come out when it rains that much.

Culled from thousands of images made during the flood and in an effort to present an organized visual narrative based on the experiences of the human who made them, I present, “Inundated,” a 50 page image wrap hardcover book of photography.


Flood day 7 36531Flood day 7 36531ANDREWS, SC - OCTOBER : October 9, 2015 in Andrews, South Carolina. The state of South Carolina experienced record rainfall amounts over the weekend but floodwaters continue to affect communities as they move out to sea. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)


I will be holding a book release party in coordination with my first gallery exhibit October 6 at Anastasia’s during First Thursday on Main Street. It’s called Document(s) and features images from the book along with a second narrative, which I’ll touch on in due time.

 All of my proceeds from the projects benefit the South Beltline/Gills Creek Community Relief Foundation.


Delivery Method


Here's the Facebook Event Page



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