For many Cayce residents and their properties, when it rains, it floods.
Kay Hutchinson is one of those residents. She owns her grandparents’ old house on Karlaney Avenue, a part of the Cayce neighborhood, The Avenues. Hutchinson’s backyard floods when the city sees significant rainfall. Flooding has become so severe over time that water eroded a brick wall that used to be in her backyard.
But Hutchinson is counteracting the negative effects of heavy rains in residential areas by participating in a cleanup that the neighborhood group, The Avenues Association, has organized. “I think even small actions sometimes make a big difference,” she says.
From three to 18 neighbors have met to sweep yard debris from the avenues since February. The group meets each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Debris–clogged drainage channels often contribute to residential flooding. And volunteers sweep that debris from the edge of the streets and pick it up so that the water can flow and drain easily.
President of The Avenues Neighborhood Association, Angela Hoyle says the project stemmed from working with the state transportation department and realizing the department’s limitations. For example, workers within the department aren’t allowed to enter private property within the avenues.
But the state’s limitations don’t stop residents from acting. “I love this community,” says Hoyle. “Everyone pulls together.”
While efforts to keep the street clean alleviate problems with flooding, they’re not a permanent solution.
City residents became responsible for maintaining their own drainage about eight years ago. Hutchinson says piecemeal drainage by residents and businesses has contributed to the flooding. Many residents try to solve drainage problems on their property by installing such solutions as drainage pipes, which may dump the water into a neighbor’s yard. And when the water stagnates, it attracts mosquitoes.
Hutchinson says she’s concerned that if local governments do nothing, the houses will drop in value.
The City of Cayce participated several years ago in a hydrology study that covered a 290–acre watershed encompassing Cayce, West Columbia, Brookland–Cayce High School in Cayce, Lexington County, and SCDOT. Representatives from all five jurisdictional areas helped pay for the study, which analyzed several permanent drainage solutions. Approximately 170 acres in the watershed falls under the jurisdiction of Cayce, says Lexington County Councilman, Todd Cullum.
The study identified Indigo Ave.—a street that runs along side Knox Abbott Drive—as one of the problem areas. One of the solutions was installing an underground drainage system along Knox Abbott Drive, which would cost an estimated 16.8 million dollars. City Councilman Steve Isom says the council is awaiting approval from Richland County Council before it can proceed. Cullum agrees the county should have some responsibility, but he says the county plays a supportive role, not a leadership role.
Cullum says he would support a countywide infrastructure fee that would go into a fund. These collections would go back to the jurisdictional areas from which they were collected in order to address shared local infrastructure needs.
State legislators from Lexington County, Sen. Nikki Setzler and Rep. Kenny Bingham, didn’t respond to calls requesting comments.
But Isom says it’s important for residents to work together in lieu of lean budget years that local governments are facing. “The ultimate solution is for people to work together,” he says, “because the money’s not going to be there.”
The Avenues Association will continue its cleanup project through the summer but will focus on picking up trash. The association also composed a flyer to educate residents on the best ways they can help control flooding in the area.
For more information on The Avenues Association, visit www.cayceavenuesassociation. com.
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