Mayoral candidates discuss their solutions for flooding

Mayoral candidates discuss their solutions for flooding
September 17 16:38 2019 Print This Article

The six Charleston Mayoral candidates assembled for the Fix Flooding First Mayoral Forum Monday at The Schoolhouse in West Ashley. About 200 residents attended the forum, during which the candidates each answered three of the eight written questions submitted to them in advance. You can see the candidates written responses here. Here is a synopsis of the candidates’ responses, in alphabetical order:

Sheri Irwin.

  • Stop building on river deltas, marshlands and wetlands.
  • Cut unnecessary city spending and repurpose the money for flooding mitigation.
  • Review city’s hazard plan with SC Emergency Management Division.
  • Improve drainage maintenance.
  • Believes that high-density development increases the risk of flooding.

Renee Orth.

  • Believes Charleston is at ground zero in a national climate crisis.
  • Green infrastructure structure projects, such as replacing lawns with rain gardens, would reduce flooding risk and enhance property values.
  • Eliminate single-family zoning and shrink city’s “carbon footprint.”
  • Stop wetlands development.
  • Homeowners should consider retreating to higher ground as sea level rise continues.

City councilman Mike Seekings.

  • Listed Top 5 flood mitigation projects with cost estimates – Calhoun Street Hospital District ($400 million), Church Creek drainage project ($100 million), West Ashley drainage easement acquisition and maintenance ($25 million), King and Huger drainage ($30 million) and Johns Island Dutch Dialogues project ($25 million).
  • Cited his solution to long-standing flooding problem near the port by getting a check valve installed. Check valves keep tidal waters from backing up outflow in drainage pipes.
  • Would seek a $200 million drainage grant from the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank, as well as funding from the Charleston County 0.5% transportation sales tax. He would ask the General Assembly to authorize a tax on cruise ship passengers to be used to mitigate flooding.
  • Stop the fill-and-build construction method in which the foundations are elevated several feet using fill dirt.
  • Blasted city’s financial management in incurring a $43 million shortfall in the Crosstown Expressway drainage project.

Mayor John Tecklenburg.

  • Announced a project with the U.S. Army Corps on Engineers to build a berm around the peninsula. No cost estimate was given, but federal funding will cover 65%.
  • Cited more stringent stormwater standards authorized for the Church Creek basin. Plans to implement new standards citywide in 2019.
  • Wants to raise the freeboard requirement for future development two feet above the FEMA floodplain.
  • Received FEMA buyout grants for 35 homeowners in West Ashley. Intends to apply for FEMA foundation elevation grants for other flood-prone properties.
  • Wants to revise zoning and land use ordinances.

Former City Councilman Maurice Washington.

  • Related a story about his childhood at Gadsden Green public housing about how homes routinely flooded at high tide. City Council didn’t listen to residents’ concerns or come up with a plan to fix the problem, which still persists.
  • Noted that 57% of all building permits in Charleston County from 2001-2006, more than 100,000 structures, were located in the FEMA floodplain.
  • Plans to hire better qualified stormwater personnel, including a certified hydrologist, geologist, meteorologist, engineer, and floodplain management specialist.
  • Wants to stop fill-and-build development and filling wetlands.
  • Revise zoning ordinances and add clarity about development risks and what structures are safe to build in various conditions.

City Councilman Gary White.

  • Highlighted his strong relationships with City Council members and coalition-building skills.
  • Cited the need for better mapping of stormwater infrastructure assets.
  • Wants to acquire more stormwater easements.
  • Plans to develop a Master Stormwater Maintenance Plan with a detailed maintenance schedule.
  • Noted that Daniel Island is a planned community which considered drainage infrastructure needs before new development was applied for. The island has not had flooding problems during recent storms.

The Mayoral candidates will hold another forum Thursday at 7:30 pm at Dor Tikvah synagogue on 1645 Rauol Wallenberg Boulevard. It is open to the pubic and the questions will be confined to West Ashley issues.