Politics & Government

2 years after flood washed away their road, Columbia residents still isolated

VIDEO: The only road home

Richland County flooding has led some residents to carve their own new routes in and out of neighborhoods.
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Richland County flooding has led some residents to carve their own new routes in and out of neighborhoods.

As floodwaters ravage Houston, Columbia area residents can offer this reality: Recovering from a natural disaster takes time. Sometimes, years.

In October 2015, about 15 homes in Arcadia Lakes lost access to nearby Trenholm Road when floodwater washed away the Cary Lake dam and the road atop it.

Nearly two years later, those residents still face an empty lake and use a makeshift road – it once was a neighbor’s driveway – to get to their homes.

“The wheels of progress grind slowly when you’re dealing with that kind of devastation,” retired minister Jimmy Adams, one of the isolated residents, said this week.

About two dozen private dams statewide with state-owned roads atop them washed out during the 2015 flood. Only seven have reopened. About 15 still are closed.

But there is hope.

A new Cary Lake dam is expected to be completed in about six weeks.

Still, it could take longer to find a new passage out of the part of the Arcadia Lakes neighborhood that remains isolated. The area includes Skii Lane, a portion of Arcadia Lakes Drive East and Lake Arcadia Lane.

The new dam, which once supported a road that provided access to the community, is being built in a different place than the one that washed away and took a portion of Arcadia Lakes Drive East with it. As a result, the Transportation Department will have to evaluate access options for the isolated residents, said Andy Leaphart of the roads agency.

The options could include a new bridge or relocating the road for a new access point to the neighborhood, Leaphart said.

“We understand that for connectivity for those residents, abandoning the road is not a viable option,” he said.

Until a new road is built, the isolated residents will continue to use their workaround.

‘It’s an ongoing saga’

Don Golightly lives on Skii Lane, one of the streets cut off.

The lower level of Golightly’s home was flooded during the October 2015 storm.

Afterward, workers making repairs to his home had a hard time navigating to his house because it was isolated, said Golightly, who added he still is getting his house back in shape. “It’s an ongoing saga.”

After the flood, the downstairs of Golightly’s home was “made a skeleton.” He also threw away a lot of furniture.

Still, it could have been far worse.

“I was fortunate, really, in that my house structurally stayed together,” Golightly said.

In Houston, many aren’t as lucky.

“I really feel for them right now,” Golightly said.

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

Richland County roads closed because of dams

Still closed

Arcadia Lakes Drive over Coopers Pond and Arcadia Woods Lake dam – Awaiting action by the dam owner

Arcadia Lakes Drive East over Cary Lake dam – Bridge or new roadway might be built

Community Pond Road – Under evaluation for repair

Eastshore Road over Lower Rockyford Lake dam – Under repair; when complete, the state will repair road

Millbrook Road – Under repair; when complete, the state will repair road

Overcreek Road over Upper Rockyford Creek/North Lake dam – Under repair; when complete, the state will repair road

Overpond Road – Under repair; when complete, the state will repair road

Rawlinson Road over Lake Trotwood – Awaiting action by the dam owner

Wilson Boulevard over Lake Elizabeth dam – Estimated completion of a bridge repair by late Spring 2018

Removed from state ownership

Zeigler Road over Weston Pond dam was removed from the state system by a court order in August

Reopened

Chatsworth Road over Windsor Lake

Spears Creek Church Road over Walden Place Pond

Shorebrook Drive over Spring Lake Dam

SOURCE: S.C. Department of Transportation

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