Gervais Street Flooding Hurts Local Business

7:05 PM, Jul 23, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Heavy summer rains have impacted the bottom lines at businesses across the midlands, but for one Columbia operation it is a double dose of trouble.

If you've ever driven down Gervais during a heavy downpour you know the street can flood--- leaving cars stalled in water and a headache for Chip Smith, owner of Constan Car Wash.

"We are serving as a detention pond for the city of Columbia, and I don't wanna be that. It's not fair they're not compensating for us, they're damaging our property when they do it," said Smith.

He says his father started the business back in 1949, but as the years went on and changes came to the area, flooding became an issue. One that he thinks comes from a sewer pipe inside another pipe that runs through area.

Still, no matter the cause or causes of the flooding, Smith says it creates a big problem for him.

"If it in fact comes on our property, for me it means that the lobby gets flooded again, that the walls get inundated with water," said Smith, describing some of the things he faces when his business floods.

According to Smith, the flooding has been going on since the late 1970s, and he hates that it impacts the presentation to customers.

Smith says he has to lift items off the ground to make sure they are not damaged. He says he and his staff have had to make adjustments to their operations as well.

"I know it frustrates them to come in and look at how run down and dingy it looks, but my goodness I can't even keep up with the maintenance on it. It's costing us a fortune," said Smith.

Robert Anderson, Director of Columbia's Public Works Department, says the city works to keep its systems clean and clear, but other possibilities of addressing the flooding on Gervais Street are outside his department's scope.

"It is just the mass quantity of rain that comes at one time, and these summer storms, the storm Sunday, just sit over Columbia and dump massive amounts of rain," said Anderson. "When it starts running off once the storm drainage system gets full it just starts backing up."

Still, Smith says the flooding poses a danger to drivers and hurts others in the area.

"It's affecting a lot of people and my point is, it can be fixed," he said.

Smith says he has been in contact with numerous city officials over the years and plans to address the problems with the new city manager.

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