JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - Thirty-six inmates are still being housed at nearby jails. Ten water rescues and four major buildings are damaged. These are just a few reminders of the havoc Tropical Storm Bonnie wreaked on Jasper County.
Thursday, officials met to update the public on the county's recovery process. We sat in on the press conference to find out what's left to be done.
More than $600,000 in structural damage from Bonnie has been estimated so far, but in addition to fixing roads and buildings, the county also has the task of addressing environmental concerns after waste water from a treatment plant spilled into a nearby creek.
"It was more of a flash flood issue. It was just so much rain at one time. The drainage system couldn't handle all that water at one time, but the nine hours it took to get that water out and open 95 back up was a tremendous time frame, I think, to get that water out of here," said Wilbur Daley, Director, Jasper County Emergency Services.
All the county-owned roads have been reopened, but a local creek that runs through Ridgeland has been shut down.
"So what happened is, the water in the sewer plant, which is essentially two containment ponds that handle the sewage prior to treatment, all the rain caused it to go over the containment wall, and a small amount spilled into Captain Bill Creek," said Jason Taylor, Town Administrator, Ridgeland, SC.
The spillage prompted a warning to swimmers and people fishing to avoid the area, but the town says the warning is more protocol than concern, since few people use the area because it's hard to get to.
The spillage has prompted the town to be better prepared the next time a storm may pass through Jasper County.
"We do look to prevent this in the future, primarily that we're building a new sewer plant that will replace this old outdated sewer plant. We should start within the next two to three month. It will be a new treatment process. In fact, with this new sewer plant, the treated water will go back into this body of water, Captain Bill Creek," Taylor said.
The new sewer plant will also treat water at the tertiary level instead of a secondary one, which is currently being used.
The county and town of Ridgeland said the recovery process will take time. They are encouraging both residents and businesses to report any damage they see, because the county has to reach a certain threshold before it can receive state or federal aid.