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Removing homes part of plan to reduce floods on creek near Irmo

Kinley Creek flows from Broad River Raod south to the lower Saluda River in the Irmo-St. Andrews area.
Kinley Creek flows from Broad River Raod south to the lower Saluda River in the Irmo-St. Andrews area. Provided illustration

As many at 99 homes in the Irmo-St. Andrews area could be torn down as part of a new strategy to reduce flood damage along Kinley Creek.

The idea is among proposals to end a long-standing problem for neighborhoods bordering the creek, flowing from Broad River Road south to the lower Saluda River.

Overflows along the creek often erode backyards and sometimes damage homes and roads. The latest episode occurred during record rainfall Oct. 4 when about 125 homes were damaged, many in the Pine Glen neighborhood.

Three suggested solutions were recommended after a two-year study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the seven-square-mile watershed in Lexington County:

▪  Demolition of 99 homes and moving their residents, estimated to cost $24.8 million

▪  Drainage improvements on 4.6 miles of the creek, estimated to cost $18.5 million. County public works officials have suggested adding rock, concrete and vegetation to reduce torrents.

▪  A combination of drainage upgrades and tearing down 47 homes, estimated to cost $21.4 million.

It is up to Lexington County Council members to settle on which approach, if any, to adopt after receiving the report Tuesday.

Much of the problem stems from development that was allowed along the creek before adoption of stormwater controls to prevent building in flood-prone areas, the study said.

Putting the plan into action promises to be a challenge for a financially pinched county, struggling to add deputies, firefighters and ambulance crews to keep pace with steady growth.

Demolition of homes “:ideally is the thing to do,” said Councilman Phil Yarborough of Irmo. “But financial constraints are a problem.”

Some council members agree a look at the recommendations is warranted.

“This is an age-old problem,” incoming council chairman Todd Cullum of Cayce said of flooding along the creek. “The (October) storm put a big highlight on the problem.”

Previous efforts to eliminate flooding fell apart amid squabbles over the cost and residents’ objections to losing significant shares of their backyards.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483

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