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Sumter community floods again, residents ask local government for help

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - A community in Sumter County is looking for help after floodwaters threatened their homes again this week.

On Tuesday, the area surrounding Golfair Road in Sumter flooded. Photos supplied by residents show water overtaking roads, cul-de-sacs, and drainage ditches.

The WIS First Alert Weather team reports there was 1.89″ of rain in Sumter from Saturday through Tuesday.

On Sept. 17, 2020, the community dramatically flooded after 7.18″ fell in the area.

At the time, 30-year Golfair Road resident Linda Hawkins said this:

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

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

On Thursday, Hawkins estimated the September flooding cost her $2,000 in damages. She said she’d had positive talks with Sumter City leadership over the last 10 months. However, she said it hadn’t translated to results.

“People in this neighborhood, deserve something for our taxes, frankly, whether it’s county or city or both. One of those things is definitely a safe place to be and that’s what we’re looking for. We don’t want money, we want something done. We love our houses and I think we deserve it. We should not have to pay exorbitant repair bills several times a year,” she said.

Neighbor Darriell Harris echoed Hawkins and said the city should act. She said she is moving her family from the neighborhood because of the flooding.

“When I see it for more than 40 percent [chance of rain] and for three days at a time, I’m nervous. I’m ready to pack a few clothes and go to somebody else’s house. I’m nervous,” she said.

WIS reached out to Sumter County and City leadership. County spokesperson Joe Perry sent WIS this statement:

“Sumter County Government and the City of Sumter are partners in a hazard mitigation grant that was awarded in 2018 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address a long-standing flooding issue close to Memorial Stadium.

When that region gets inundated with heavy rainfall, the naturally low-lying characteristics of the land have a tendency to hold water.

Both the City and County have been working with an engineering firm, AECOM, which is providing consultation on this project.

The goal is to construct a retention pond and upgrade the infrastructure to help alleviate flash flooding in the area. We want to bring about a long-term solution and as such, more FEMA funds are being sought as we move from the study phase to the construction phase.”

WIS asked Perry for a timeline for the projects, and he responded “as soon as possible.”

City spokesperson Shelley Kile said the city and county are working closely together, while no leader AECOM was immediately available to make a statement.

Hawkins and other neighbors raised concerns the development of the nearby Quixote Club was creating more run-off in the community.

The Department of Transportation sent a statement identifying the possibility:

“SCDOT Sumter Maintenance crews were informed of flooding in the Pinewood Road area on Tuesday, July 20th around 4:30 pm. Upon arriving to the area, crews noticed that there were yards flooded with water on Golfair Road but not the roadway.With the recent golf course development in that area, SCDOT has noticed that there has been an increase of complaints from residents that we believe is due to the run-off from the property. SCDOT is currently working to collaborate with the City Stormwater Representative to discuss further actions.”

Quixote Club management declined an opportunity to comment.

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