Jonathan Hoskins and Lorenzo White watched powerless from their front porch Friday as the rain fell and the rising water formed a 6-inch-deep moat around their Greene Street apartment complex.
“That should not happen,” White said, pointing to a pedestrian who was stranded in the middle of the road, unable to get to his home.
In one of the wettest summers in recent history, drainage problems continued to plague east Augusta residents Friday, with pools of water once again swallowing front yards, street gutters and neighborhood sidewalks in the 200 and 300 blocks of Broad Street and Laney-Walker Boulevard, lower sections of Wrightsboro Road and the Marion Homes subdivision.
District 1 Augusta Commission member Bill Fennoy said that the problem areas have been around for decades but that keeping storm drains free of debris might ease the problem in the short term.
“I think we’ve got two choices. We can either do the stormwater fee or we can wait on SPLOST 7 to get that taken care of,” Fennoy said, referring to the special purpose local option sales tax.
The city engineering department has been developing a stormwater fee program since last year, but implementing the fee requires commission approval. The fee will be based on a landowner’s square footage of impermeable surfaces such as driveways, roofs and parking lots, and nonprofit landowners are not exempt.
The city is in the early stages of formulating its seventh local option sales tax package to go before voters next year. The 1 percent sales tax package could be used to fund infrastructure improvements.
“The commission needs to put their heads together and do something,” Hoskins said. “We pay taxes and rent, but when we walk out our front door, we have nowhere to go. It makes no sense. Olde Town is a historical area, and it should be treated as such. I love my Augusta and want to see it improve.”
Marion Homes resident Ivy Herrington agreed, saying she is growing impatient. She said the city has marked certain streets for drainage improvements near her home off Fairhope Road but has yet to make any repairs.
While the wait continues, Herrington has to navigate front-door puddles, waterlogged yards and overflowing street gutters, a recurring experience she said is lowering her property’s value and her quality of life.
“Somebody needs to do something,” Herrington said. “The high water, and the many potholes in the area, tears up your car.”
Mie Lucas, the disaster preparedness coordinator for Richmond County, said the only reports her office fielded Friday involved an overhanging tree limb on Anthony Road and minor flooding near where Laney-Walker Boulevard intersects Third and Fourth
She said the water was not flooding any yards or properties and was expected to subside late Friday, as long as the area does not experience any heavy, sustained rain.
“It is normal splash-up that’s affecting some low-lying roadways,” Lucas said.
Jeff Linton, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s West Columbia office, said Friday that Augusta had received 3 inches of rain at Augusta Regional Airport in the past 24 hours and that localized flooding was possible, especially with rain chances at 80 percent today and 60 percent Sunday. Linton said high temperatures, normally at 92 degrees this time of year, should remain between 65 and 70 degrees.
He urged motorists to drive with caution.
“It only takes a little water to move a vehicle,” he said.