West Columbia officials are coming to the aid of a family whose home is in danger of falling into a ditch widened significantly by persistent summer storms.
Temporary protection for the Allen home on Natchez Trail should be in place as soon as next week, officials said Thursday.
“This is being done to save the house,” Mayor Joe Owens said. “One hard rain and it is gone.”
The decision drew tears of joy from homeowner Sue Allen, 69.
“This is so exciting,” she said. “Somebody has heard our pleas.”
City officials plan to lay down a heavy plastic liner and top it with rocks to stabilize the deep ditch that has spread to within a few steps of the Allen home after repeated heavy rain.
The work is estimated to cost up to $200,000, an amount Owens said will be paid for by city revenue and federal aid.
City officials will sort out later if payment should come from state transportation officials after the road they maintain in front the home overflowed across the yard into the ditch again and again.
State officials agree there are drainage problems in the neighborhood, but say dealing with them isn’t their responsibility.
The Allen home is in an area where the terrain flows toward the lower Saluda River nearby.
WATCH : This was the scene in July 21 in West Columbia
Erosion made underground pipes in the ditch visible, leading the Allens to place sandbags across their yard as a safeguard.
Bursts of rain since July washed away $10,000 in improvements that the Allens spent to protect their yard after erosion first occurred in 2009.
Before that, the family said, there was no problem in their 38 years living there.
No one is sure why drainage problems worsened decades after the home was built.
Owens is willing to help undertake a study looking at the problem, but said the Allens shouldn’t be forced to wait on completion of an examination likely to take months.
“Sitting and pointing fingers on what should be done is not going to help them soon enough,” he said.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.