Residents along Florence road discuss flooding concerns with city council

Residents concerned over flooding in Florence

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - People in Florence took their frustrations over constant flooding issues directly to city leaders Monday.

Those who live along Saint Anthony Avenue spoke out during the city council meeting, pleading for help and answers to their ongoing flooding and stormwater problems.

During the meeting, Mark Allen, whose home has flooded eight times, represented about a dozen of his neighbors who also showed up.

"We need some answers and we need them soon,” Allen said to city council members.

Allen said his home has received almost nine inches of water three times - during Hurricane Mathew, the 1,000-year flood, and the July 28 storm last year.

He and neighbors have gone to city and state leaders numerous times to get help, but said while they have come out to assess the problem, nothing has been done.

“They actually determined that the elevation issues are causing big problems and the city manager told me that it looks like water does flow my way, which I knew that,” Allen said.

Allen added he’s spent hundreds of dollars on pumps and fans to dry out his home after the storm. The cost doesn’t include the damage from the previous floods.

He said now his family is suffering from health problems because of mold-infested walls. Allen also has sheet rock and insulation damage, along with soft spots in the floors that he can no longer afford to fix. He asked officials for financial help with damages, along with a solution to fix the clogged drains.

"My family has had some sinus issues, some stuff that’s related to mold issues, especially in the walls. Like I said, at this time of year it’s not bad, but once the humidity gets up you can tell,” Allen said.

City manager Drew Griffin said officials are well aware of the flooding problems not just in Allen’s neighborhood, but throughout Florence. Council members, including Mayor Stephen Wukela, admitted it has gotten worse over the years.

However, Griffin said the current stormwater drains are simply not built to withstand the amount of rain the city gets, as well as the city being on flat land and debris that clog the pipes.

“When you have a stormwater system designed for a two- to five-year storm, and you have a 1,000-year storm, then you’re going to have ponding and you’re going to have some flooding,” Griffin said.

Griffin said the solution is not a quick fix and would cost an estimated $500,000 to $1 million for that area alone.

"The proper grade and the proper pipe will carry that water off, but you have to rebuild the system and that is the problem," Griffin said.

During the meeting, Wukela mentioned a possibility of raising stormwater fees to go toward building a new stormwater system, but said that would only scratch the surface of the cost.

Still, Allen and neighbors are hoping something is eventually done or come this summer, his family will be forced to leave a place he’s called home for more than 20 years.

“Fixing the house is just one thing, but if it does it again, I’m right back where I’m at now, so it’s very important for them to get together with whoever they need to and let’s get this problem resolved so everybody in this whole area can have a peace of mind," he said.

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