ST. HELENA, S.C. (WTOC) - Imagine waking up without a roof tomorrow morning. That's exactly what happened to one Beaufort County family after Hurricane Dorian came through last week.
The Pappalardo family lives on Saint Helena Island. There, they run a small farm that they live and work on with their daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, and 200 farm animals. Thursday morning, Dorian swept through their home, changing their lives in just moments.
Christina Pappalardo described the moment the roof got ripped off, still not believing what had happened.
“Around 5 o’clock in the morning, there was an extremely loud noise, very similar to a freight train coming through. It was very loud, very fast," she said.
Her husband, Carl, says he’ll never forget it. At the time, they assumed one of the metal slats had been pulled and bent upwards. They had no idea the entire roof had been removed.
“It was just this big, gruesome bang, and I remember yelling over, 'are you guys okay," Carl recalled.
The house was divided into two apartments - one for Christina and her husband, and one for their daughter’s family. The daughter, her husband, and two children had been in the bedroom it started in. They say they saw the ceiling fan suddenly sucked up from their room, hurdling into the sky before crashing back down.
They spent the next few hours moving from room to room as sheet rock continued to splinter down from wherever they were. It wasn’t until the sun rose that they realized the extent of the damage. Since that moment, Christina has been trying to figure out not only how they would replace the roof, but how they would survive until they did. That’s when Beaufort residents stepped in.
“We have had friends and strangers, just the most incredible outpouring of love and help from everybody. It’s just overwhelming,” she said.
A PayPal, Go Fund Me, and other fundraising methods through Beaufort Animal Control have all been set up to help them and their farm. Carl says the community has been rallying behind them.
“My friend told me, when I said how fortunate we were from everyone pulling together, he said, “Welcome to the South."
Christina still gets emotional. After seeing the damage, she knows it could have been worse.
“I just feel so completely lucky that we all survived. The animals all survived.”
Tuesday morning, Christina was under the impression that her insurance company would not be coming for an assessment until Sept. 19 - nearly two weeks after the storm, but as of Tuesday afternoon, the insurance company has changed their mind. They will be meeting with the family on Wednesday.