COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Eight months after many parts of central South Carolina were devastated by historic flooding, some Richland County property owners are preparing for a future without the placid lakes that increased their land values and made life pleasant.
The State newspaper reports Sunday that property owner groups, which own the dams, say they miss the water but that rebuilding would be too expensive.
More than 1.5 feet of rain fell on parts of the Columbia area in early October. Ever since, many have been asking how long it would take to rebuild the 48 state-regulated dams that broke across South Carolina.
Some real estate appraisers say a lake can increase the value of property by 15 percent to 50 percent. But building just one could easily top $1 million.
“We can’t afford to rebuild it,” said Vicky Jenks, a spokeswoman for the Walden Pond homeowners’ group. “We are small potatoes. We don’t have the money, and we are not getting any help. It is very painful.”
So far, state regulators have not received many applications to reconstruct dams as property owner groups seek to raise money and develop plans. But some said it’s easy to understand why some property owner groups would not rebuild.
“Long term, there is going to be some liability for dams not being maintained properly,” said Terry Richardson, a longtime South Carolina trial lawyer who is not involved in a dam-liability case. “If you build them improperly, you have the exposure. If I was on the homeowners’ association of a dam, I’d want plenty of insurance to cover the risk.”
Downstream residents have sued Lake Elizabeth Estates Inc., claiming the failure to maintain the dam through the years caused it to break and flood property below the structure, allegations Lake Elizabeth denies. Property owners’ association leader Karen Jones also confirmed that discussions are underway to abandon plans to rebuild the dam because of the expense.