Al Harman isn’t daunted by months of repairing flood damage at his home in Cayce left by the Congaree River flowing at the edge of his backyard.
“God knows, this is a lot of work,” Harman said Friday while spraying a bleach solution to deter mold in the lower level of his home. “But I’m in better shape than many other people affected.”
Riverland Park long has been a poster child for Midlands flooding. The quiet, middle-class neighborhood sits snugly against the river on Cayce’s southern side and gets hit more often than most when the Congaree rises.
This time, it was worse than anyone can remember. Nearly 70 residents were rescued as the river crested past 30 feet for the first time in 79 years after record rain, the National Weather Service said. Part of that rise came from weather-related water releases from Lake Murray upstream for the first time since 1969.
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Previous rises in river levels spilled into Harman’s sloping back yard but never got into his home in the 18 years he has lived there, he said.
His home’s river view with a dock he could fish from attracted avid angler Harman, 54, to the flood-prone neighborhood.
He was flooded out. Other homes a few blocks from the river suffered less damage.
“It was a mess, but what we lost is minor, considering,” Eva Warren said of carpeting and household items she had to throw out from a storage area.
Two of Stacey Anderson’s daughters lost bedding, books and a television set after one bedroom in the home flooded.
“I’m relieved it wasn’t worse, but it left my kids going without,” she said.
While Harman, Warren and Anderson left voluntarily. The nearly six dozen who were rescued had chosen to stay, city officials say.
Ferrying some out in boats and vehicles became “really scary,” as water rose quickly, City Manager Rebecca Vance said.
Overall, about 50 homes in the neighborhood were damaged, officials say.
Meanwhile, access to an industrial area south of Cayce remains restricted to workers as Lexington County officials repair a damaged road off I-77. Online retailer Amazon’s distribution center and Nephron Pharmaceuticals are the main companies located there.
In Riverland Park, Harman took his boat to his father’s home in nearby West Columbia as a precaution a few days before the heavy rain after reviewing weather forecasts.
His family hurriedly packed clothes and few items as water lapped on their downstairs patio, leaving behind some mementos as they fled.
“You can’t get everything,” Harman shrugged.
The aftermath of the flood has cheered him.
Unexpected clean-up assistance from University of South Carolina students he didn’t know “gave me faith in humanity, that people still care,” he said.
And federal disaster aid to pay for renovations already is in hand.
After his home is fixed, Harman has one more project waiting.
“The dock comes next,” he said. “Striper season is coming.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483.