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"All I want them to do is fix what they messed up"

June and Juanita Barnette watched through a living room window as floodwaters crept up the side of their home on Rock Hill’s Ogden Road.Two weeks later, the couple is still living in the aftermath — squeaky floors, insects crawling across the carpet and a strange odor drifting from the basement.

Now, the Barnettes want help in paying for the resulting damage.

The Barnettes and a second family across the road, the Clyburns, live next to a construction site where 70-some homes are being built.

When more than 3 inches of rain fell in less than 12 hours on June 26-27, water quickly overwhelmed an unfinished retention pond on the edge of the site and spilled over into the two families’ yards, City Manager Carey Smith said.

“I’m not looking to beat somebody out of a bunch of money,” Barnette said. “All I want them to do is fix what they messed up.”

Two factors exacerbated the problem: Soil at the construction site was graded, but grass had not yet been planted, meaning the ground offered almost no resistance as rainwater seeped through it.

Second, a drainage pipe was pointed directly toward Ogden Road, causing water to gush onto the Clyburn property and through a culvert leading to the Barnette yard.

It is unclear whether the developer, Keystone Builders, violated development codes by directing the drainage pipe toward the homes, Smith said. Reached on Thursday afternoon, company representative Jon Perdue declined to comment.

The city is now acting as a mediator, hoping to push the two sides toward an agreement without the dispute winding up in court.

“We’re trying to get things worked out,” Smith said. “If there were damages as a result of this, we would like to be part of helping to assure they are addressed.”

Smith stopped short of calling on Keystone to pay for damages, instead suggesting the company could send workers from the construction site to make repairs.

Rock Hill’s stormwater pipes are built to the 10-year storm level required by state law, but last month’s floods are believed to have surpassed the 50-year mark. That means a storm of this magnitude occurs, on average, every 50 years.

The city is in the midst of an $8.1 million overhaul of its stormwater system, with work taking place on Ebinport Road, Sumter Avenue, Rabun Circle and around Little Dutchman Creek. Without the improvements, flooding on Ebinport could have been devastating, city officials said.Ogden Road, however, is not part of the current upgrade.

Matt Garfield • 329-4063mgarfield@heraldonline.com

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