Hartsville hitting back against ‘surprise’ floods
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
Hartsville has had localized flooding before in heavy summer rain, but what happened July 8-10 “caught everybody by surprise,” said Hartsville City Manager Daniel Moore.
Over that Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Moore said, the city got a total of 7 inches of rain, causing “flash floods” downtown. “It completely overwhelmed our (drainage) system. … We haven’t had that type of rain unless it was a hurricane.”
Moore said he dispatched city crews “all weekend long” to block off roads and keep debris from clogging overloaded storm drains. “I was out in it. I was up to my knees in it.”
He said the high water didn’t last long – “This was a flash flood; it came as quickly as it went away” – but city officials already have decided to take action to prevent something like this from happening again.
“We’re going to be hitting this as hard as we can,” Moore said.
When Hartsville City Council held its regular meeting July 12, the flooding was the first thing up for discussion.
Mayor Casey Hancock told the audience that the city was “very concerned” about the weekend’s floods. Flash flooding from unpredictable storms “is not a problem you can solve 100 percent,” he said. “That said, we don’t need water lapping into the front doors of businesses downtown, or anyone’s homes.”
By last Tuesday, officials had met with representatives from the South Carolina Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over “much” of the city’s storm-drainage system, and Moore had posted an advisory on the city’s Facebook page about the weekend flooding.
“As many of you know, this weekend, the city received a substantial amount of rain, which caused several areas to flood, including parts of our downtown,” Moore wrote. “ … We will keep you all updated as we have more information on long-term solutions, but today I want to stress what the city is doing right now to assist.
“Today we have dispatched city crews to assist SCDOT by vacuuming out sediment and build-up in problem areas to aid in water flow. In addition, crews are also clearing as much debris as possible from storm-drain inlets and ditches to keep them flowing. With whatever assistance the SCDOT can provide, this work should hopefully offer some much-needed relief.”
Moore said Hartsville will be working on short-term and long-term solutions.
Hancock said the city is prepared to spend “a couple of hundred thousand dollars” on “immediate fixes” to relieve the problem. Permanent fixes might cost millions, he and Moore said. They would likely involve replacing a too-small drainage line that runs through the middle of the heavily traveled Carolina Avenue, Moore said.
Kim Cranford, manager of Hartsville’s Center Theater downtown, told City Council during its meeting last week that the facility had suffered serious water damage because of the multiple floodings and that repairs might run as much as $13,000. At one point, he found several inches of water on the floors.
“This has been going on for 60 years,” Cranford told council. “Sixty years! And we can’t find a solution?”