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James Island woman digs out own ditches after repeated flooding, mold problems

James Island woman digs out own ditches after repeated flooding, mold problems (WCIV)

The Lowcountry is no stranger to flooding, but one James Island homeowner says that's just the start of her problems.

"The situation we’re in is insanely frustrating," said Abby Wilson.

She says clogged ditches in front of her home have caused her yard to flood, leading to a flooded crawlspace under her house and, eventually, a mold infestation.

"We want to fix the problem. We don’t want to just sit on it and let it happen," she said.

Abby says fixing the obvious health risks of mold are especially concerning since she has a two year old in the home.

She said several other homes on Woodland Shores Road, which is near the Green Acres neighborhood on James Island, also have issues with their ditches.

"A lot of these residents, as well as myself are asking, who’s responsible?"

Turns out, the answer isn't so clear. Abby said she and her husband attended a July 31 public meeting hosted by officials with the City and County of Charleston.

The meeting was meant to focus on development of Maybank Highway and Main Road.

Abby said officials told her the South Carolina Department of Transportation is responsible to maintain the road and the ditches in front of her home.

Abby said she's tired of waiting on DOT officials to clean out her ditches, and with shovel in hand and her husband by her side, is cleaning them out herself.

"It's kind of hard to put a price tag on it when it’s so important to so many aspects of your house and your health," she said.

Department of Transportation spokesperson James Law says workers are on a rotating schedule to clean out all the state's ditches at least once every six years. He said maintenance is often more frequent as heavy storms necessitate it.

Law further said some roads and ditches are, in fact, the responsibility of SCDOT to maintain because they're state-owned, even if the areas are in multiple municipalities.

Meanwhile, Abby has hired a specialist to deal with the mold spreading in the crawl space under her home.

"There could be allergies in the family. Young kids. Elderly people their immune systems will be effected when they start breathing this stuff," said Mario Colangelo, a mold remediation specialist with AdvantaClean. "We cannot leave this crawl space like it is now."

"Half of homes in Lowcountry are built on a crawlspace," Colangelo added.

He also said about half the air we breathe in our homes comes from the crawlspace.

"If this crawl space isn’t attended to and made healthy again, their two-year-old daughter is going to start having health effects."

Colangelo said he's installing a pump inside the Wilson's crawlspace, which will prevent standing water and the further growth of mold.

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