Rain, hurricane season bring flood worries for residents in Pooler

Rain, hurricane season bring flood worries for residents in Pooler
(Source: WTOC)

POOLER, GA (WTOC) - People living in a Pooler neighborhood that flooded during Hurricane Matthew say the city of Pooler isn't doing enough to prevent another flood and are suing the city to hopefully force a change.

"Every time it rains, we all wonder 'Is this going to be the next flood?'" said Arnold Poundstone, who lives on Tappan Zee Drive in Pooler.

Rescue crews used boats on Tappan Zee Drive during Hurricane Matthew to get people out of their flooded homes, which isn't a designated as a flood zone. Poundstone and others on the street say the city of Pooler is pushing off needed repairs to the Quacco Road Canal and continuing this avoidable problem.

Poundstone said since Hurricane Matthew put 10 inches of water in his home in 2016, he and other neighbors deal with more than physical damage.

"Panic attacks, people have chest pains, anxiety," Poundstone said. "You just sit around and wonder 'Is this going to be the next time?'"

He said it's not just tropical weather or named stormed that bring on that stress or require preparations for potential flooding. He said regular rain means raising living furniture on to buckets and cleaning out closets to keep their more than $80,000 in home repairs from being ruined again.

"So far since Matthew, God has answered our prayers more than the city has," Poundstone said.

He said the canal along Quacco Road is to blame for the flooding and the lack of repair to it by the city of Pooler for continuing it.

"We want the problem fixed," he said. "There's absolutely no reason why everytime it rains, everyone has to be on pins and needles, go through this big effort to uproot your whole house and hope that's not going to be the panic attack that puts you in the hospital."

Pooler City Manager Robert Byrd said Tuesday the city is making efforts to repair the canal and has already done some work.

"This flooding was caused by approximately 15 [inches] of rain which our area received during this storm/natural disaster," Byrd said. "While the flooding on this street was an extremely unfortunate occurrence, it needs to be understood that our area was under a state of emergency due to a Cat 5 hurricane. The City of Pooler has widened and deepened the Quacco Canal and [has] been working with Chatham County on upgrading the Quacco [Road] canal crossing."

Poundstone said he spoke with the worker who was widening and deepening the canal, and he said that contractor told him he widened the canal by about two feet and deepened by about four feet.

"I asked him, I said, 'Is this going to solve my problem?' He said, 'No, I'm just buying you time," Poundstone said.

Byrd said a $600,000 bid for canal improvements should be advertised this week, but he said the city will not comment further on the issue because of ongoing litigation.

Poundstone is one of about 10 neighbors living on Tappan Zee Drive who has hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit against the city of Pooler.

The suit asks the city to fix the drainage problems with the canal and pay for damages, according to Poundstone.

"Each rain storm and with each, anxiety attack and all the other stuff that goes on with it, we haven't had our little group meeting yet, but I'm of the opinion, every time it rains, that number goes up for damages," Poundstone said. "Why do we have to live in fear because they don't want to fix the problem? We're not trying to get back even with the taxpayers of Pooler. The city of Pooler has an insurance company that will probably handle all this, but the mayor needs to look in the mirror and say, 'Am I spending the tax dollars wisely?'"

He said engineers are currently finishing up their study of the canal, and Poundstone said their attorney will determine where the suit goes from there. Personally, he said he would like the case to go to trial instead of settling with the city.

"Let 12 people decide who's right and who's wrong," he said.

Regardless of a canal project bid going out this week, Poundstone said he will believe the city is serious about repairs when he sees work happening.

"I'm not going to feel like they're actually fixing our problem until I see a backhoe and the road dug up," Poundstone said.

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved.