Solution in works for Market Street flooding

Market Street Flooding on Wednesday (Courtesy: Paiam Etminan)

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Market Street looked more like a river than a street earlier this week.

Heavy rain around the time of high tide created soggy conditions for vendors and tourists Wednesday afternoon.

"You could see tourists with it up to, almost up to their knees," said Cile Nelson, who works at the market. "And tourists like putting their kids on their shoulders going across, carrying people over."

Despite several shoppers seemingly making the best of conditions, some of the workers in the market said the flooding hurt business.

"There was a period of time where we had to shut down," said Vicki Alfuth, who works at market. "We couldn't keep anything really under the table, everything had to come up, and we really didn't have anything out for sale."

But for the locals, the flooding wasn't a big surprise.

"It was the typical flooding we have seen on Market Street," said Laura Cabiness, City of Charleston's director of public service. "The good news is that we've got a drainage improvement project, which we have completed the first stage. We are getting ready to begin the second phase."

Officials with the City of Charleston say the second phase of the project, which should begin this August, will take approximately 18 months.

"The second phase is going to involve the construction of a deep tunnel, ten feet in diameter, that is about 130 to 140 feet deep in the ground," Cabiness said. "There will be three shafts in the market that will be used to tie the storm water into it to get it in the tunnel. Then, this tunnel will connect with the pump station we have on Concord Street."

While construction may discourage some from visiting the marketmost vendors agree that the project will be well worth it.

"We are very excited about the drainage being fixed," Nelson said. "We know that it's going to be an inconvenience on all of us for a while, but in the long run, it's going to be great for us to not have to deal with this water issue."

The project was part of the master drainage plan created in 1984. It is one of the higher priority projects because of the severity and frequency of the flooding.