Dorchester Co. neighborhoods complain of weekly flooding, repair costs

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 8:40 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 11:17 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Recent rainfall has brought up flooding concerns in some Dorchester County neighborhoods, but the county says they’re doing as much as they can with what systems they have in place.

Neighbors along Blackwell Avenue near Summerville say flooding happens between two to three times per week, and sometimes, it gets into their homes and backyards.

Marty Johnson, who lives along Blackwell Avenue, said it rained for about five minutes on Monday, yet there was standing water on the road and front yards were soaked with water hours after the storm.

He also said he has spent thousands of dollars to repair his home because of flood damage and has to replace his garage doors every few years.

“Flood damage was like $32,000 for the great flood,” Johnson said. “Since then, I’ve repaired garages around the base and stuff because they rot down from the flood.”

Dorchester County Councilmember David Chinnis said before the Clean Water Act of 1972, housing developments didn’t have to capture all of the stormwater due to the runoff of roads and driveways, meaning there are no retention ponds.

“None of that was required at the time these older subdivisions were built, so you don’t see that,” Chinnis said. “They assumed everything could be caught by the closest ditch.”

As a result, Chinnis said the infrastructure that was put in at the time cannot handle the amount of rainfall the Lowcountry has seen recently because it’s too small.

Chinnis admits the county has been playing catchup to manage what drainage systems they have.

“The challenge in the older developments is simply availability of where are you going to put the water,” Chinnis said. “We have, and it’s pouring down rain outside right now, when it falls down in such high volumes in such short amount of time, where does it go? Are the ditches deep enough? Are they clean enough? The county is maintaining ditches with a small staff, trying to make sure that they’re clean.”

A separate homeowner in the Summerville area has also filed suit against the county for property damage, which they say, was caused by floodwater. The county says they cannot comment on pending litigation.

On Blackwell Avenue, the county said it is raising a grate and must raise its foundation to increase its capacity, which came as a relief to neighbors.

“What’s done is done,” Johnson said. “I can’t change that, so as long they come and make an effort to come and try to get something done about this, I’ll be more than happy. What’s lost is already what we lost.”

Chinnis said one way this situation can be avoided from happening again is by managing future developments to make sure those developments all the stormwater capacity they need for whatever comes their way

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