Columbia County commissioners were prompted to ponder the price of precipitation during Tuesday’s meeting.
Martinez resident Pam Williams approached the commission with concerns about the stormwater system near her home. She said the failure of a storm drain Aug. 7 caused extensive flooding, bringing more than two feet of water into her home.
It was at least the third time the drain failed, she said. The first was in 1995, before she moved in, and the second was in 2006. After the 2006 flood, she voiced her concerns to Columbia County officials, who were told by engineers dispatched by the county’s insurance company that the flooding was a unique occurrence caused by unusually heavy rain and that the insurance company would not pay for damage. But the commission awarded Williams $18,000 for repairs.
The August flood, Williams said, was much more severe. While the final damage figures are not in, she said all the floors, duct work and four feet of drywall will need to be replaced. She said about 60 percent of the family’s furniture was ruined.
The county’s insurance company again sent engineers to look at the storm drain and, again, the fault was deemed an anomaly.
“Unfortunately, our position is dictated by different factors,” commission Chairman Ron Cross said. “And our insurance company has declined this claim. I’m not saying I agree with this personally, but I don’t know of any other way around this.”
Commissioners asked why Williams had not bought flood insurance after the 2006 incident. She said she was told the property did not qualify.
“But I do know I don’t want to do this every five years,” she said.
Commissioner Trey Allen said that while the commission is bound by procedure in such cases, the members are not without compassion.
“I don’t think there is a single person here who isn’t heartsick,” he said. “But we
do have procedures to follow. We will investigate to see what avenues, if any, can be pursued.”
While on the subject of stormwater, the commission approved $419,416 for stormwater and drainage improvements in Wynngate and on Kestwick Drive. It also improved other water projects, approving nearly $2 million for booster station improvements and a water line project at Scotts Ferry.
In other business, the commission passed a motion to name the one-block street where the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce sits Business Boulevard. Commissioner Ron Thigpen joked that no study needed to be commissioned.
“This one cost zero,” he said with a laugh.