By Chris Weatherhead
If you were just told to “take cover” from the radio about a tornado and you’re closing up the Folly Post Office, are you going to risk flood and tornado to save the mail when you see water flowing toward the postal box out front? You do if you are US Postal worker Lori Braddock. You kick off your shoes, rip off your sox, roll up your pants and wade out across the parking lot with a bag to save the mail as water rises around the box. “All I could think was, ‘Get that mail out of there’!”, Lori recalls. She was alone, having sent co-worker, Shakara Blake home with a warning of a tornado in the area.
The dedicated, brave woman waded back to the door, realizing water was rising and would soon enter the post office where all the roughly 2,000 residents of Folly Beach must get their mail. Lori called her boss shouting, “The water is comin’! It’s fixin’ to come in the post office!” Her boss said to do what she could,
so she frantically began tossing packages of all sizes up as high as she could on counters and tables. Having done this, she was seized by terror that inside mailboxes up to three to four feet could soon become filled with water. “I must protect that mail,” she kept thinking.
Ms. Braddock grabbed empty plastic containers and yanked mail out of individual boxes from one side of the office all around to the other, wrapping each box’s mail in rubber bands as quickly has possible, spending the next hour saving mail four feet up as the water sloshed in the lobby.
Never thinking about her car in the back lot while doing this sacrificial act, she finally looked out back and realized her car was submerged. Further into the road water was waist deep so she went back in and waited. Finally, floodwaters began to recede, the causeway was re-opened and her daughter came to save her.
Two days later, when we returned from evacuation, her car had been towed away. I came for my mail and found out how two important packages we’d been waiting for and our mail in a bottom level box near the floor had narrowly been saved. Amazing devotion to duty and tremendous dedication are hallmarks of a hero. Ms. Lori Braddock is a true hero to the people of Folly Beach who saved our mail from Irma’s floodwaters.
Grateful residents can thank her or send thanks c/o Folly Beach, SC 29439
Chris Weatherhead, P.O. Box 930, Folly Beach, SC 29439
Photos: Lori Braddock (right) and Shakara Blake (left) / Boat washed up from Tropical Storm Irma / Folly Beach flooding