Marion County Council considers clearing ditches to prevent flooding

MARION, SC (WBTW) – The Marion County Council wants to clean out ditches and canals in Nichols to cut down on flooding this hurricane season, but other leaders are concerned that clearing the area is a liability.

Several ditches and canals run off into the Litle Pee Dee and Lumber River, but overgrown trees and storm debris stop water from flowing properly.

Marion County Council voted unanimously to look into clearing the ditches and canals in Nichols if other agencies like SCDOT and FEMA do not.

Council Chair Buddy Collins says before Hurricane Irma made landfall, many people in Nichols reached out to him specifically to address blocked ditches.

“It’s a devastated area and it’s been flooded with the worst flood that we’ve ever seen over there. It was never expected. Now the fear of the people in the town and in the area is, is it going to happen again?” said Marion County Chairman Buddy Collins.

Both the county administrator and attorney do not recommend the county clear the ditches because it could make the county liable.

“Everybody wants to help, but we want to do it the right way,” said Senator Kent Williams, District 30.

Senator Williams says SCDOT agreed to clear the canal, but the town of Nichols must have an agreement from land owners to clear their ditches.

“I can’t see property owners not wanting to help the people [and] alleviate the flooding problem here,” said Senator Williams.

Pastor Charles Johnson says people in the town have wanted the ditches cleared for several years. Pastor Johnson also says he will give permission to clear the ditch behind his church.

“We want to be here for our people. Of course whatever is needed that is what we try to do,” Pastor Johnson said.

Senator Williams scheduled a meeting with the Marion County council, SCDOT, and the mayor to sit down and create a plan to clean up the ditches and canals Thursday.