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Sunken piles of dirt and rubble pockmarked the ground along Stamp Mill Road on Wednesday, Aug. 7, less than a day after heavy rains washed portions of the road away.
The road and its creek crossing, located about 17 miles east of Lancaster and south of the Buford community, were significantly damaged following a series of heavy rainstorms Tuesday, Aug. 6.
Using a few photos from the scene, which showed giant holes at various locations along the two-mile-long road, Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis reported the damage to Lancaster County Council on Wednesday.
He said at least three-quarters of the road has disappeared and parts of a large pipe that runs under the creek crossing are now exposed.
“As you can see from the pipe, this is one of our older crossings that has not been fully reworked in recent years,” Willis said.
He said the road, which has steadily deteriorated during the last four years, is now almost impassable. Though county Public Works crews have temporarily barricaded the road, Willis said it will require significant repairs.
“There is a critical habitat downstream of the crossing, which means we have to work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife folks, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, to fix this,” Willis said. “We can’t just put a pipe in there and slap some dirt on it. We’ve gotta go through the process and file the right permits.”
Unfortunately, Willis said, that road wasn’t the only one affected by the steady rains that fell on the county between 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“We have reports of anywhere from 5 inches to 7 inches of rain in this time period. Given water levels were still above average, some flooding did occur on both county and (S.C. Department of Transportation) roads,” Willis said.
Other roads and damage included:
u Gills Creek Drive, which overflowed at about 3 p.m. and was barricaded, though there was only minimal damage to the road and crossing.
u Foxdale Court, a dead-end road, had significant flooding at its creek crossing and was barricaded all night. Crews repaired damage from minor erosion on Wednesday and residents were able to pass through by 6 p.m. that day.
u Langley Road, which saw significant flooding at its crossing, was barricaded all night, but passable by the next morning.
u Kirk Air Base Road, which saw significant trench erosion and remains closed.
u Greystone Drive, which became clogged with debris, but did not flood and remained open
u Knot Lane, Happy Trail, Bayou Road, Continental Road, Harris Hill Road, which were all submerged and barricaded Tuesday, but most opened by the next day.
u Several S.C. DOT-maintained roads also flooded, including Cimmeron Road, Dixie School Road, Catoe Road, Woodbridge Road and Doster Road, the latter of which was the only road still closed for repairs Wednesday.
The significant flooding also reminded county officials about the need for flood signage at two key roads, Hough Road and Deertrack Circle.
The roads, which are near flood-control reservoirs, both “overtopped” during the heavy storm on Tuesday. Willis said both were barricaded due to the threat of sustained flooding and by Wednesday Hough Road remained submerged in about a foot of water.
“(These) are designed to go underwater when the reservoir backs up to prevent downstream flooding,” Willis said. “But in the meantime the roads become flooded and cut off the road.”
In order to protect motorists, Willis said warning signs are needed along both roads.
“We are obtaining signage warning drivers to expect road flooding during heavy rain events,” he said.
Willis said Public Works crews traveled the county’s roads Wednesday and Thursday removing debris, repairing washouts and placing or removing barricades as needed. He said the four employees worked about 16 total overtime hours during the flood response.
Repair and overtime costs are paid for out of the Public Works/roads and bridges line item in the county’s general fund, and are considered general road maintenance costs.
Willis thanked the efforts of Public Works employees during the last few years in making stronger improvements to the county’s roads and creek crossings.
“I want to commend the Public Works crews for their great work. The road crossings repaired over the last several years are holding up, knock on wood, to heavy rain and flooding events,” Willis said. “It takes longer to complete and is more expensive than in the past but the quality work is really yielding good results”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416