Janet Weinstein/ABC News(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — The Williams family, who survived Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and were covered by ABC News last week in the lead-up to Hurricane Matthew in Charleston, South Carolina, exhaled a breath of relief on Sunday.
“No damage!” 11-year-old Tyrese Williams called out as he surveyed their home for the first time after the storm. There were no signs of floodwaters or downed trees on their property.
The days-long anticipation leading to this moment had been tense. After losing their livelihoods in Long Beach, New York, four years ago, Hurricane Matthew’s forecast brought a sense of dread. But since the beginning, 17-year-old Tyiesha Williams swore to stay hopeful.
“I’m just trying to keep a positive mind,” she told ABC News on Oct. 5.
Three days later, then-Category 2 Hurricane Matthew hit as the family rode out the storm in a local elementary school shelter.
“I was kind of scared,” Tyiesha told ABC News. “Everyone in the shelter had to go out in the hallways so we could be protected because the eye of the storm was coming.”
After the storm passed, the state of South Carolina waited 24 hours before lifting its evacuation orders for Charleston County to make sure it was safe for residents to return home. So, the family waited.
“My toys are going to be wet but it’s OK, I can buy new ones,” Tyiesha’s 8-year-old cousin, Destiny Snider, told ABC News. “I left my American Girl doll at home but it’s OK, I can buy a new one.”
Around noon on Sunday, county buses arrived at the shelter to bring residents back to their homes. As the bus drove down the interstate, Tyeshia said she was relieved that she wasn’t seeing any damage.
“In Long Beach, we had a lot of damage,” she said. “But the results now are a little better than Sandy.”
“It’s finally nice to see the sun,” she added with a smile.
When the bus pulled up to their home 20 minutes later, the three family members cautiously walked up their porch steps. Tyrese took the keys, opened the door and walked in.
“I was in shock when we came in the door and nothing was messed up in our house or broke,” Tyrese told ABC News after finding his house untouched.
“I’m just, you know, excited because I knew this whole time it would be OK,” Tyiesha said. “I continued to have my positive mind and it got me through this.”
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