Sumter Co. residents face flood damage to homes after Thursday’s storms

Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 11:36 PM EDT
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - Sumter County residents faced hours of heavy rain, strong winds, and tornado warnings on Thursday morning and afternoon.

The skies cleared in most areas by mid-afternoon, but what the storms left in their wake was massive amounts of flood damage to homes. One resident’s home on McCormick Drive, just a few miles from downtown Sumter, sat in over a foot of water after the storms left the area. The water came up to the third step of the front porch, with the driveway and yard more than a foot deep in water.

Marie Moore, the woman who rents the home, said it was heartbreaking when she got off work around noon and came home to see her house flooding.

“I broke down and just started crying and just said, ‘Oh my God! Not again,’” she said, “and I just imagined what the inside looked like. This flood was something worse than I’ve ever had because, this time, it rose up higher and it was close to the main house.”

Moore said that her living room sits in about a foot of water following the storms. She said ever since she’s lived here the past four years, she had faced flooding every year, but it’s never been anything like this.

“They have a flood gate up, but that didn’t do the job. I have 25 sandbags, but that didn’t help either.” Moore said. “All I need is some help. I need someplace else to move because this right here is not working after four years. My heart is heavy and I don’t know what else to do.”

Her furniture and TV sat on cinder blocks, just inches away from the water. Some of her personal belongings, like frames, floated in corners of the room.

“The city came out and cleaned the drain, but the dirt comes from up the hill and all over, and after a while when the rain starts to go down, the bugs and everything else starts creeping up,” Moore said.

Moore wasn’t the only one to experience flooding. A tornado watch was issued for Sumter County for parts of the morning and afternoon. The area faced large amounts of rain throughout the day with many roads and parking lots flooding during the strongest part of the storm.

Moore said that the water in her yard recedes surprisingly quickly after each flood, but the damage left to the inside of her home is lasting.

On Golfair Road, several homes were surrounded in water.

Neighbors told WIS the issue is man-made, and they don’t expect the waters to recede soon.

Linda Hawkins' home was surrounded by several feet of water and called on local leaders to improve the drainage system. She said it’s left her community vulnerable for years.

“We have to hold our breath every time we have a tropical storm comes through here, and that’s frightening. That is frightening. You just get everything fixed up and dried out underneath, and then here it comes again,” she said. “I see no reason to hope for something better unless something is done with the drainage system.”

Hawkins said it’s cost her $12,000 in repairs when the area has flooded in the past.

She said she isn’t sure who would be responsible for fixing the drainage system, but something needs to change.

“Acts of God are fine, but this is an act of man,” Hawkins said. “I hate to use the word negligence, because I don’t think anybody intentionally does that, including our government officials, but something needs to be done. We have complained and we done everything we know to do. It’s frustration, that’s the best word for it.”

She said she has no plans of moving.

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