Demolition of homes and relocation of residents won support Tuesday from some Lexington County Council members as part of a new effort to reduce flood damage along Kinley Creek.
Razing some homes along the creek in the Irmo-St. Andrews area was endorsed by Councilman Phil Yarborough, who represents those neighborhoods.
“It would help end the cycle of damage and repair,” he said. “It’s going to be part of the solution.”
Yarborough isn’t sure how many homes should be considered for removal after a report recommended up to 99 be torn down.
Demolition of homes is “a last resort” but necessary to explore, consultant William Lamb told council members.
Razing homes in the most flood-prone areas bordering the creek would help “take the biggest bite out” of a long-standing problem, he said.
The creek flows through several neighborhoods from Broad River Road south to the lower Saluda River.
Tearing down 99 homes is estimated to cost $24.8 million, a hefty price tag for a county struggling to add deputies, firefighters and ambulance crews amid steady growth.
Some council members want adjoining Richland County and Columbia City Hall to chip in since the upper part of the creek flows through those areas.
“There’s going to have to be multiple partners in this if there’s ever going to be a resolution,” Council Chairman Todd Cullum of Cayce said.
But Lexington County should bear the tab since it allowed most development along creek, homeowner Dan Dabkowski said.
Much of the problem stems from development allowed before adoption of restrictions on building near waterways, the report said.
Some neighborhood leaders are urging residents to give up part of backyard for drainage improvements. “That’s what we’re working on,” said Art Guerry, president of the Whitehall Homeowners Association.
Others said ending floods will take time. “There is no easy fix,” long-time Whitehall resident Chester Sansbury said.
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Road repairs get boost
Lexington County officials hope to reopen the flood-damaged entrance to the garden at Riverbanks Zoo as soon as mid-summer.
An effort is underway to expedite repairs estimated at $700,000, county engineer Joey Derby told County Council on Tuesday.
A section of the mile-long Botanical Parkway in West Columbia was washed out during record rain across the Midlands on Oct. 4.
About 120,000 of the zoo’s 1 million annual visitors come in on the road, officials have said.
Council members also gave initial approval to allocating $6 million for flood-related repairs to roads, bridges and drainage. That’s on top of $1.5 million spent so far, officials said.