By Stan Welch
The wettest spring and summer in recent memory have helped the crops, refilled the lakes and farm ponds, and made a yard service a pretty good business to own. But nature seldom gives without extracting a price, and this year, so far, is no exception.
County administrator Rusty Burns, speaking in a telephone interview with The Journal, cited a variety of unhappy consequences to all the rain, and lately, the wind the county has experienced. “We have had crews out almost every night for the last two or three weeks, clearing roads of limbs and fallen trees. I swear I think a grown man could almost push some fof the trees in the county over.”
High water has left a number of roads impassable, and has damaged several beyond quick repair. “We have accelerated our purchase of items like box culverts so that we can get these washed out roads re-opened as soon as possible. The county has suffered huge financial losses and we are in contact with our insurers almost daily, asking where the check is.”
Burns estimates that damage to county roads and other infrastructure is fast approaching a half million dollars and may well continue to climb. One of the most costly impacts on the county’s infrastructure is that on the sewers. “Not only is the ingress and infiltration of stormwater into the sewer lines, where it enters the treatment facilities, and taxing their capacities, terrible but we have had more than one lift station seriously damaged.”
It’s not always damaged county infrastructure that has an impact. Torrential rains in the Pendleton area two weeks ago washed out a section of Norfolk Southern track, leaving nothing but suspended rails across the gap. Since many of the manufacturers located in Anderson County receive raw materials and ship products out over those lines, the impact is immediate and potentially serious.
Railroad crews are working to repair those lines.
Burns stressed that the county’s employees are doing a tremendous job, from Council members, such as Councilmen Dunn and Allen, to the members of crews from the roads and bridges, sewer, and emergency services departments. “It has absolutely been an ‘all hands on deck’ approach. I’ve been very pleased and gratified by the performance of the various departments and crews.”
Burns said that if the costs and damages continue to rise, the threshold amount for federal assistance might be reached. “But for now” he said wishfully, “I’d just be glad to see five or six days of beautiful weather. We need a good drying out.”