Florence neighborhood waits for fix to dam, washed-out road

One Florence community is still waiting for someone to help them get back to normal.

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The unprecedented flooding that South Carolina saw both last year and in October of 2015 left several roads and dams in bad shape. One Florence community is still waiting for someone to help them get back to normal.

“It’s just a nuisance,” Lianne Gardner said. “It really is.”

Garnder lives in the Lake Oakdale area and used to be able to cross over Pelican Drive to get her kids to and from each school each day. She said it’s a different story since the road was closed last year after Hurricane Matthew.

“In the morning, you have to go all the way down to get around Pelican,” Gardner explained, her hands motioning the circle she and her children now have to make each morning to get around the broken dam. “You have to go up Whitehall and you have to go around.”

The record-breaking rains the area got from both Hurricane Matthew and the 2015 floods put a strain on the dam that state-owned Pelican Drive crosses over.

According to the SC Department of Environmental Control–which regulates dams across the state–the 2015 floods severely damaged or breached 50 dams including this one and another across town. Hurricane Matthew damaged 25.

“I feel sorry for the residents,” said Kent Caudle, Florence County Council Chairman. Caudle said he’s concerned with how long the repairs are taking on Florence’s dams.

“I went out there yesterday and thought Wow, what a beautiful scene out there when that’s lake is so full and when there’s an empty part that just looks like a mud hole,” Caudle said.

“The last I heard, they can’t fix the bridge until the fix the dam,” Gardner said. She and many of her neighbors said it’s frustrating as SCDOT, DHEC, and county officials point fingers while they fall through the cracks.

“Originally we were told not before Christmas, and now we’re way after Christmas,” she said.

DHEC officials said the date keeps pushing back because while they regulate dam safety, and Pelican Road is owned by the state, the dam itself is privately-owned, and that owner is responsible for the damages. Chairman Caudle said County Council cannot legally fix the road.

“You know if there’s a county road over a dam, we’ll fix it,” Chairman Caudle said. “If the dam’s not there, we can’t fix a road with nothing under it.”

A DHEC inspection after the 2015 flood found critical damage that neighbors say was never addressed. Until the owner of the dam makes the repairs, the road will remain closed.