Private Dam Owners Face Repair Struggles After Flood

23 S.C. roads still closed after historic flooding.

Hundreds of roads were washed out last year in historic flooding that hit parts of South Carolina, and while many of those roads are now open, roads that pass over washed-out privately owned dams are not. According to an article in The State, 23 roads are still closed, due to the fact that they run over privately owned dams that have yet to be repaired. In many cases, the dam owners are homeowner associations.  According to DHEC, none have submitted permit applications to be repaired, mainly because owners are struggling to figure out how to pay for the repairs.

Dam repairs could cost communities between $500,000 and $1 million, and depending on the community size, it could be a considerable burden for homeowners. And help for funding the repairs is nowhere to be found.

The Department of Transportation will not repair the dams, since they are privately owned, saying it isn't their responsibility. The state received money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood victims, but none of the FEMA money will be given to home associations to help repair the dams. Some associations have turned to the Small Business Administration to receive loans for the projects, but were denied because of collateral issues. So far, no money has been allocated in the S.C. budget to help owners with repairs. 

Currently, there is a bill in the House that would create special tax districts to help raise money by levying taxes on local homeowners. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Beth Bernstein, Democrat, of Richland County, but so far, the bill has not moved forward at the State House.