Amidst flooding woes, downtown drainage project a work in progress

VIDEO: Charleston may not see drainage improvement difference for years, engineers say

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In Charleston, when in rains, it floods. That's the new normal for residents and business owners throughout the Charleston peninsula.

"It basically shuts everything down," said Lauren Swink, a store manager along the city market.

Swink captured Tuesday's flood on her cellphone camera, as proof of what happens on a rainy day in the city.

"It was basically a river on Market Street," she said.

The flood waters are almost as common as the tourist who frequent the city mainstay.

Swink said the store now keeps at least four sandbags on standby to counter the water.  She also pulled out a "snake," a hose-like sandbag, something she uses often near the front door, to keep the floods at bay.

"After a certain point, it can only do so much," Swink said.

That's why the City of Charleston has embarked on multiple drainage projects, including one in the market area, and another near the Crosstown, incorporating 20 percent of the Charleston peninsula, including areas near the VA hospital, Burke High School, the Citadel, and MUSC among other entities.

Steve Kirk, the city's senior engineering project manager, said both projects include new drainage systems, utilizing pump stations, and underground tunnels systems.

He said the city has completed the second division of the market project, which included installing new drains, and will now move into the design phase.

Meanwhile, the Crosstown, also receiving more than 175 new storm water systems and close to 6,000 feet of new piping.

Construction there, now into Phase two of five, which includes constructing drop shafts to connect to the underground tunnel system.

Kirk said for both areas in the city, residents and motorists may not see the difference until 2019-2020.

"This is a large, longstanding problem," he said.

Christal Orange, a vendor new to the city market, welcomed Tuesday's rain, as someone who grows fresh produce in Moncks Corner.

"I try not to get frustrated with it because there's really nothing you can do," she said.

The Crosstown Drainage Project is expected to cost $154 million.

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