Columbia neighbors deal with flooded yards and homes due to unmaintained storm drain

Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 11:23 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Flooded yards and homes have become normal for some homeowners along Wilkes Road in Columbia. Neighbors in the area say they’ve been asking the city to fix unmaintained storm drains for years because they believe that’s what’s causing the flooding.

“It’s a nightmare,” explained Deborah Watts, who has lived along Wilkes Road her whole life.

When it rains, Watts says her yard becomes a small pond, and streams of water sometimes flow into her home and others in the neighborhood.

“When it’s raining or a torrential rain, I cannot rest because I’m always watching to see if it’s reaching the house,” she explained. “It has reached the house before, so I’m afraid of flooding the house.”

Watts she says she’s been contacting the city about the issue for months. According to her, they blamed the flooding on a debris back up in a drain across the street that’s owned by Richland School District One.

But Watts says Richland One cleaned out the drain in October, and the flooding persists. In fact, one homeowner says her rental property has been deemed unlivable, as water is currently flowing into her crawl space.

“I’ve been told by the city that they are not responsible for the damage that’s done to the houses, but we didn’t cause the damage,” said Watts.

It’s not just the fear of flooded homes keeping these neighbors up at night. The city installed a noisy metal plate in the middle of Wilkes Road over a month ago after a water pipe burst.

“You are up all night with someone running over it, and you’re jumping up out of your sleep,” explained Anthony Flagler, who has lived along the road for 25 years.

In addition to the loud sound, some cars try to drive around the plate, cutting it close to Watts’ and Flagler’s front yards.

“I’m thinking somebody is going to hit it one day, or the whole thing may cave in, you never know,” said Flagler.

Between the flooding and the noisy plate, these neighbors are desperate for help because they’re worried if these drains aren’t fixed now, they’ll continue to see damage for years to come.

“They always tell us they are putting it on the list as an emergency, but nothing happens, nobody shows up,” Flagler said.

WIS contacted the city, and Public Works Director Robert Anderson said a crew would be coming out Friday night to secure the plate in the road and lessen the noise. He says they will also be working to schedule a day to repair the hole in the road.

Anderson adds that the city will work with SCDOT since one of the storm drains is maintained by that department to see if they can figure out what’s causing the flooding.

SCDOT sent WIS a statement saying, “The department would first need a location or address to review the condition of the pipe and its associated structures. Once the assessment has been completed, we would formulate a schedule for any repairs or work if needed.”

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