New life for new Stallion student after disaster struck

Chelsea Hicks was the definition of a well-rounded student at Johnsonville High School in Johnsonville, S.C. She was a three sport athlete- varsity cheerleading, basketball, and track. She was also crowned the 2015 Homecoming Queen for the Johnsonville Flashers. Hicks had the ideal life.

She was popular as well as athletic.

In early October, however, her life was changed forever. Her home in Johnsonville was destroyed by the flooding that occurred from the effect of Hurricane Joaquin. Hicks lived on what was called “lower land” in Johnsonville, which is a small city between Florence, S.C., and Conway, S.C. The flooding around Hicks’ home was unexpected because it was not in a flood zone.

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Hicks’ home and car in Johnsonville, under water after the flood.

With no place to live, Hicks came to live in Rock Hill with her aunt, Kristy Hicks. Kristy is the Director of the Special Education department at South Pointe, where Hicks now attends. “My whole family had to separate,” said Hicks, “In order for us to get where we’re going.”

Her house in Johnsonville is currently being rebuilt, but it is not a quick process. She said the few remains of the home were torn down, and then the house was going to be completely rebuilt from square one.

The water rose to the windows of the home, destroying it all around.
Hicks’ lived on a large piece of land, which was all affected by the flooding. (Photos contributed by Chelsea Hicks)

Hicks had a few family members still living in Johnsonville, but they were either a big family or did not have enough space. So, Hicks came to live with her aunt, who lived alone. Hicks’ two nieces, who are six and seven, came to Rock Hill with her as well.

As for Kristy, she is adapting to living with younger people now, and having to care for others at home.

Hicks initially intended on only staying in Rock Hill for the semester, but it is looking more likely that she will have to spend the rest of the school year here.

Hicks endured quite a culture change coming to South Pointe. Her school in Johnsonville had “about 300 people at the most” she said. She now had to learn to function in a new school with about 1,000 more students than she is accustomed to back in Johnsonville. She reiterated that she felt South Pointe is really big.

Kristy says she thinks her niece is adapting well to the change, but it “has been quite an adjustment.”

Hicks claimed that her time at South Pointe has been an “experience” and she is trying to get involved in the school. She plans to maintain her athletics and says she will run track for the Stallions this spring.

It has not been easy for Hicks to abruptly leave her life in Johnsonville as she still has ties and duties that she feels she is missing back home. “My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to come back and crown the next [Homecoming] queen if I do not graduate from Johnsonville,” said Hicks. This puts a damper on her exciting honor of being named Homecoming Queen of her high school.

After high school Hicks plans to go in to the Army Reserves and then attend college, and hopes to become a registered nurse. She says for now she has found a new home in Rock Hill and may just return here after college.

By Summer Huechtker, editor in chief