NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – After receiving over three inches of rain in about two hours Thursday evening, the basins designed to catch storm water and carry it out to sea were overwhelmed with debris, and the streets of North Myrtle Beach were flooded, a city official explained.
Business owners and those who work on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach said more than three feet of water covered the end of Main Street towards Ocean Boulevard Thursday night. Some question the success of the 12 million dollar outfall project installed by the city last year.
"They're wondering where our budget money went, you know, if we still have flooding after a two hour period of hard rain, what are we going to do when we have a hurricane" Greg McCourd said.
"Well, that was a true test of the new drainage system they installed" Kevin Phillips added.
Both men work at the International Cafe on Main Street. They witnessed several people using kayaks and compared the main road to a river.
North Myrtle Beach City spokesman Patrick Dowling had an answer to the communities concerns about the cost and efficiency of the system.
"The answer is, the design was good, the installation was successful. The only problem in this situation was it filled up with so much debris that it blocked the flow of the storm water which backed up into the streets," Dowling explained.
The membrane filters installed at the 42 water catch basins around the city are made of a fine material that collects anything that may enter them, including sand, dirt, and litter, stated Dowling. He said these filters were overwhelmed with debris carried to them by the flowing storm water.
These filters were not originally part of the Ocean Outfall Project, Dowling stated, but were installed under changed national permitting requirements.
Another contributing factor was the reconstruction happening in the Horseshoe area at Main Street, Dowling stated. Excess sand, broken seashells, and mulch used in the construction was found clogging the filters in the area. He said the city will no longer be using mulch in this area.
While business owners certainly do not see the flooding as a positive outcome to rainfall, some have faith the city will address the issue.
"Nobody likes to see flooding, but I'm sure the city is doing the best they could and they'll look at this and probably look at what else they can do to improve it." Milford Powell, the owner of Pirate's Cove said.
City workers have completed cleaning out the clogged filters around the city, Dowling said, and the city plans to now check and clean each filter every other week to ensure that storm water can flow through them during future storms.