Flooding problems pour out at public hearings

Public-hearing organizers and residents look over maps at the May 10 hearing at St. John’s Elementary. PHOTO BY BOBBY BRYANT

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

Darlington County asked residents to talk about their flooding problems. Here’s what some people said as a series of public hearings around the county kicked off last week:
— “When it really rains, I have a flood.”
— “The drainage, or something, is not working.”
— “It floods tremendously. … We have a lake.”
— “It’s a mess.”
— “The water is so bad (it draws mosquitoes) – we have to spray mosquito spray just to get out of the car.”
— “The water needs to get going somewhere.”
During the first of four public hearings, this one held May 10 at St. John’s Elementary School in Darlington, about 60 residents attended. Those who spoke said the area’s flooding problems are the result of several things, ranging from too much rainfall to clogged-up storm drains to clogged ditches to area creeks that have become so full of storm debris that they can’t drain normally anymore.
Organizers of the hearings noted that the Pee Dee has been hit by three hurricanes in the past several years, all of which dumped huge amounts of rainfall and scattered storm debris into ditches and drains.
“I’ve been hit with all three,” one area resident said. “If I get hit again, I’m going to sink. … Every rain that has come through has flooded my yard.”
The hearings are being conducted by the S.C. Office of Resilience, Darlington County government and E.L. Robinson Engineering. The funding comes from the Office of Resilience. The idea is to gather information on problem areas, document it in a study and use the study to help get grants to resolve the flooding.
At the second hearing on flooding, held May 12 in Society Hill, about 25 people attended. Society Hill Mayor Dwayne Duke told residents that officials are trying to get help for the area’s flood problems.
Duke said that the S.C. Department of Transportation sometimes worsens the situation while trying to make it better. “The South Carolina DOT, with every problem with water going over the road, you know how they fix it? They go in there and they make a bigger ditch, which we call a retention pond.”
One woman attending the Society Hill hearing spoke in detail about flood problems at her mother’s house on Church Street in Society Hill. “It’s running downhill, and my mother is right there in that home. Everything is rolling down. … I know everything cannot be taken care of overnight, but there can be improvement for Church Street. We see it. We live it.”
In an earlier meeting with project organizers, local-government officials shared their views on Darlington County’s flooding problems. “Flooding has been an issue in Darlington County for as long as I can remember,” Darlington County Council member Joyce W. Thomas said. “I’ve lived and worked in this district for more than 50 years and this has been a persistent problem for all that time. Our infrastructure has severely clogged drains and ditches, so when it rains, it floods.”
The hearings on flooding issues were to continue this week with two more meetings, one at 6 p.m. May 17 at Lamar-Spaulding Elementary School in Lamar and the other at 6 p.m. May 19 at the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center, 300 E. College Ave., Hartsville.

Author: Stephan Drew

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