Part 1: Barefoot rebuilds, one year after wildfire

This image was captured just off Woodllawn Drive minutes after the fire was toned out. NewsChannel 15 photojournalist Jessica Saleeby arrived on scene before some of the fire units / Jessica Saleeby

It's been one year since the devastating wildfire that destroyed 70 homes in North Myrtle Beach's Barefoot Resort.

For folks who lost their homes, it's been a year of rebuilding. For North Myrtle Beach city officials, the past year is one of hard lessons learned.

Though a few empty lots remain, the Barefoot community is well on its way to being back to normal, but there are some things that can't be replaced and some hard feelings that remain, for those who feel the system let them down.

On the night of April 22nd, 2009, Dorothy Floyd woke up in the middle of the night, looked outside and wondered if it might just be the end of the world.

"The wind was blowing real hard and embers were just attaching to the shrubbery and all and so I knew we had to get out," Floyd said.

Floyd and her 91-year-old mother, who live on Club Course Drive, made it out with the few items they could toss in the trunk of her car. "I had a leather jacket and a straw hat."

Everything else in their home was destroyed. But she's philosophical about losing clothing and belongings.

"I'm 67 years old, and those things are just not important to me anymore, because I know that when I leave this earth, I can't take any of that with me."

A year later, Floyd has a new home and, she says, much to be thankful for. "So much love and understanding and things have been shown to me and my mom, so I'm just grateful for all that."

Just around the corner on Bridlewood Road, Barbara Chartier also has something to be thankful for. "I love my new home. It's just a thrill," Chartier said.

But for the Chartiers, memories of that night a year ago are tinged with bitterness that they weren't warned about the wildfire approaching.

"I kept asking my husband, where are the sirens? How come no one's here telling us that we need to evacuate?"

The Chartiers got out safely with their dog, their kids' baby books and a computer hard drive. Everything else was lost.

But she says, they might have been able to save some family treasures, if they'd had even a few minutes notice from public safety officials. "I honestly don't believe they could have saved the homes, but they could have given us some warning. We were depending on them and they let us down. It's just the grace of God that nobody was hurt."

Now, the Chartiers are celebrating their new home, and its mascot, the Phoenix, rising from the ashes. They'll have an open house this weekend to mark the wildfire's one year anniversary. "Inviting our friends to show them how good God has been to us," Chartier said.

Chartier points out one good thing about moving into a new home. After 43 years of marriage, she says finally all of their furniture matches.

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