COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - At least 10 families who live in the Riverland community of Lexington County evacuated their Sunday night due to major flooding.
Dozens of homeowners in that area and along the West Columbia Riverwalk are dealing with flooded yards and driveways.
City officials said all of the flooding is the result of heavy rain in the Upstate last week, which caused higher water levels in Lake Murray. This meant Dominion Energy, the agency that monitors the lake levels, had to release the maximum amount of water within its licensed limits, beginning Friday morning.
As of Sunday afternoon, officials said the water level by the Riverwalk was about 15-feet higher than normal, but that it had crested.
Homeowners in the Riverland community and the Congaree Park neighborhood say this flooding is the worst they’ve seen since the historic flooding of 2015.
Some families were trapped inside their homes, while others navigated their streets by boat. Riverland resident Ken Chavis used his kayak to check on some neighbors whose home was surrounded by water.
“I actually took a kayak over to them, so that they can come up to their vehicles,” Chavis said. “They did luckily get to move them before the river got too high, but they had to wade back to their house when the water was rising.”
Chavis says water from the Congaree River started pouring into the neighborhood Saturday afternoon. Saturday night, several residents decided to evacuate, including Jess Pike and his family.
“I lost too much sleep last night, I really didn’t sleep at all I was too worried about my home,” Pike said. “It’s pretty devastating. It’s scary, it’s not normal to come into your neighborhood and see a river taking over.”
Over in West Columbia, the Congaree Park neighborhood also dealt with flooding. Sandbags floated in a backyard on top of what was a pool.
The West Columbia Riverwalk is closed, as water almost covers lamp posts that used to light the walkway.
West Columbia mayor Tem Miles said he spent the weekend making sure residents were aware of the potential flooding, and he believes Dominion Energy was proactive in making sure water was released early.
“I’m very thankful that they did that," he said. “I think them being proactive really helped us to avoid a really potential incident where a lot of water would have had to have been released at one time, so I’m thankful for the way that Dominion has handled this.”
West Columbia has not had any evacuations due to the flooding, but Cayce city officials say they have assisted with a total of 10 voluntary evacuations.
They also say city staff have been working around the clock since the water began to rise to notify those who could be affected.
Three roads remain closed in Cayce as of Sunday night due to this flooding, including all of Old State Road, Granite Hill Road at Brookcliff Road and 12th Street Extension at Amazon.