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After the storm: Residents recover from Irma flooding

  • Photo courtesy Marty Sauls Paul Crosby's home on Knowles Island suffered damage from the effects of Hurricane Irma.
  • Photo courtesy Philip Rhodes Philip Rhodes, a homeowner on Tickton Hall Road, said the water rose higher during Hurricane Irma in his area than it did during Hurricane Matthew.
  • Photo courtesy Neal Patel Neal Patel, owner of the Sunoco store in Ridgeland, watched the water rise at his business.

If Hurricane Matthew wasn’t enough last October, now homeowners and at least one business owner in Jasper County are having to recover from flooding from the effects of Irma.

Paul Crosby, who has owned a home on Knowles Island for the past 14 years, rode out Hurricane Irma in his home with his wife, Christina.

“We heard the wind, but our main concern was the storm surge and high tide around 2:27 p.m.,” he said. “During Matthew, it was not really as bad, with the water coming about 8 feet from the patio.”

Crosby said Matthew damaged his pump house but did not reach the swimming pool. They lost power and the chimney was knocked over due to continuous winds. The foundation was OK following Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Irma caused a different kind of damage due to the storm surge and its time around high tide. Crosby was hoping to get past this time, however Irma had other ideas.

“That didn’t happen,” he said. “We watched the ditches fill up and then the water kept coming up.”

The water eventually flooded into the basement of their home, with 2 to 3 inches of water, causing damage to their freezers and small items that had remained in the basement. The home itself sits 10 feet off the ground as part of the building codes for the area. The electricity flickered, Crosby said, but the home never lost power entirely.

“All of our patio furniture and the picnic table was all over the yard,” he said. “There was lots of water.”

Crosby said he had flood and excess flood insurance, however he was handling cleanup of the debris left behind from the marsh and his pool became a saltwater pool rather than a freshwater pool during the storm, adding to the cost of cleanup. He said he was also getting his septic tank serviced.

“I am not sure of the exact cost of all of the things that need to be done, but it’s over my deductible,” he said. “The ones with the most damage seemed to be on the marsh side, close to Broad River near the fishing pier.”

Crosby said he was having someone come in and check the foundation to make sure it was still OK. He said he had also been cleaning out his garage of the excess water and removing the marsh debris from around his entire home. He was sure that he would not be planning on riding out another storm in his home. He wanted to thank the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office for checking on them while they were there and also thanked Ridgeland Police Chief Richard Woods for checking on them.

“They were very helpful and the community came together and stuck together through this storm,” he said. “I am not planning on staying if another storm comes this way. We have been blessed over the years, but this kind of storm takes the wind out of your sails.”

Storm surge at Tickton Hall

Philip Rhodes, a homeowner on Tickton Hall Road, also dealt with Irma’s storm surge. He purchased his house in 1995 and he and his wife Cindy stayed in their home throughout the storm. He said the water rose higher during Irma in his area than it did during Matthew.

“The water kept coming,” he said. “The wind did not seem as bad this time and our gusts were about 50 to 60 miles per hour, so the main concern was the storm surge, it was a big problem.”

Rhodes said he watched the water rise as six empty gasoline cans came floating out on to his property as well as other items from his shed and a lot of lumber from other people’s yards.

“A lot of stuff washed out into the river,” he said. “It was crazy, the water was up to my knees. I sat on the porch and saw the gas cans floating and you couldn’t see any marsh. What was scary was that the water kept rising.”

Rhodes, whose home is only 38 inches off the ground, said the water damaged all of the duct work under his home and most likely the air conditioning. He said the water level rose to the door of his shed but never got into the shed. He said it took about three days to clear the area of marsh debris that had washed on to the land from the storm.

“The duct work will fall into the deductible on our insurance,” he said. “I might have to buy a new air conditioning once we see if it is working and we will have to get the structure checked out, but the shed was OK structurally.”

He added that if one more foot of rain had fallen, his entire floor level of his home would have been flooded and they would have had to wade through the water to get to a neighbor’s home.

“Overall, we were blessed,” he said.

Flood at gas station

One Ridgeland business owner is was cleaning up last week following the third flooding issue he’s faced in the 13 years he has owned it.

Neal Patel, owner of the Sunoco convenience store at 11965 North Jacob Smart Boulevard in Ridgeland, stayed in his store during the storm and watched the water rise all around his business.

“The water began to rise around 2 p.m. the day of the storm,” he said. “This store is located around a creek and I don’t think those who should keep up the cleaning of the area have been doing it and this has led to my flooding inside and outside my store.”

This marks the third time that Patel has faced flooding in this same location, he said. He said a drain in the area of his store, if it was cleaned, would help alleviate the problem.

“I have owned this store since 2004 and there have been three times I have had to deal with damage from the storms and the water,” he said. “The first time it cost me $300,000 due to floods from excessive rainfall, then it cost me $200,000 due to Hurricane Matthew, and now it is costing me $180,000.”

Patel said he has insurance for the contents of the store, but he lost all of his gasoline during the first flood he endured as water got into the tank. The second and third storms he was able to keep his gasoline and keep the water out of the tanks.

“This storm was bad, the water was inside and the building was damaged,” he said.

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