GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - There is major flooding in Georgetown County. Residents say the water was three to four feet high over the weekend.
Santee Cooper officials say they are conducting a controlled spilling operation at the Santee Dam on Lake Marion to manage lake levels. That means they are allowing more water to be released from the dam.
This was prompted after heavy rainfall dramatically increased inflows to the Santee Cooper Lakes System, prompting the utility to release more water to manage those levels.
People who live in the North Santee community on Crow Hill Road in Georgetown County are taking boats to get to their homes. The road looks like a river and flooding extends about a half mile down the road. As of Monday afternoon the water level was about the height of a mail box.
Georgetown County Council member Everett Carolina says people who live in the area received a call from Santee Cooper notifying them that water was going to be released from the dam on Lake Marion.
“Our garage is flooded, we have the house on the lake which we didn’t ask for," Carolina said. "It is receding, but this is a common thing that happens along this area.”
Carolina says he is working to get the water tested to check for contamination and will be meeting with other council members soon about these concerns.
Georgetown County resident Jimmy Small’s home is flooded.
“Right now I have about two inches of water in my house so I got to wait on it to go down so I can start drying the house out and I can get it in livable conditions again,” Small said.
Santee Cooper says their lakes are part of 15,000 square-mile watershed that stretches into North Carolina. Officials say their lakes are at the end of this line, which means when there’s a high level of rain in the Upstate and Midlands, that water comes this way.
Georgetown County resident, Robert Varn, says he wishes the water was released more gradually.
“You do all you can do and let Jesus handle it, it’s in his hands now,” Varn said.
Santee Cooper says they’ve been asked why they aren’t putting more water down the Cooper River. They say the Army Corps of Engineers controls the flow down the Cooper River and their contract with them prohibits that.
There were several road closures over the weekend including Highway 17A at Saint Delights Road.
“They just dump it and let it go and don’t care how it affects people down river,” Small said.
Santee Cooper says it began spilling operations on Feb. 7 and are currently spilling at a rate of 30,000 cubic feet per second at the Santee Spillway. However, late last week they were spilling at rate of 100,000 cubic feet per second. Santee Cooper officials say they may need to continue spilling at the reduced rate for another day or two.
They say they notify property owners in the Santee River floodplain as they begin any spill and as they adjust the spill volume. Property owners can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list. Anyone can obtain daily information about spilling by calling the lakes information line: 1-800-92LAKES.
Some people who live in the area say they want someone to be held accountable and compensation for home repairs.