Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen and Mayor John Tecklenburg address the media prior to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew
Residents in some West Ashley neighborhoods are calling on city leaders to finally put a stop to the continued flooding that plagues the area.
Members of the Shadowmoss, Bridge Pointe, Hickory Farms, and Hickory Hill communities shared their stories with the members of Charleston City Council earlier this week, with one speaker saying that his home flooded for the ninth time following Hurricane Matthew. Many of those who addressed council argued that increased development in the area had chipped away at the available drainage area, leading to flooding around Church Creek. While some residents suggested a moratorium on new development, almost all those who spoke to council felt that the concerns of these communities have gone unnoticed following the historic flooding that took place last October.
“Has anyone realized what damages have occurred? A year ago, we could not leave our home for four days. Luckily, we had no damages because we live on a higher landing, but there were many others who had lots of damages. Nothing has been done to help us,” said one Hickory Farms resident.
Bob Lewe, president of the Bridge Pointe Homeowners Association, said that he and members of his community are considering taking legal action if the city fails to address the area’s drainage problems.
“Several of our residents are very upset about nothing being done since last October, and they want Bridge Pointe to institute a lawsuit against the City of Charleston,” said Lewe. “I think that we might do that if nothing is done.”
Prior to the outpouring of comments regarding the management of flooding in West Ashley, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg laid out part of the city’s plan to address the issue.
“The actions that we intend to take, or are taking, are further requirements on development in this area. Most people don’t realize this, but we actually have tighter requirements in the drainage basin here than in other parts of the city, but we’re going to make them even more restrictive. We’re going to pursue the mitigation grant with Congressman [Mark] Sanford’s help to buy out the properties that have continually had problems.”
Councilman Dean Riegel, who represents much of West Ashley, supported his constituents’ stance on the perils of continued development and called on local, state, and national leaders to push for more federal funding to help those in his district experiencing continued flooding.
“There’s no doubt in my mind and no one’s ever going to convince me that all this mass development and filling in our wetlands and our marshes and our various canals is what created this problem,” said Riegel.
Following public comments, Mayor Tecklenburg announced a renewed effort to improve the quality of life for those in neighborhoods that continually deal with flooded homes and roadways. The mayor said he would call on council to approve a new engineering study to look at current recommendations to improve drainage in the city and allocate funding in next year’s city budget for additional drainage assessments.
“When we get sick, and we really are sick, we should get a second opinion,” said Tecklenburg. “I feel like we need a second opinion.”