Grand Strand

Conway says nearly 1,000 homes will flood because of SCDOT dam

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) - The City of Conway held an emergency city council meeting Sunday afternoon to consider action to stop the construction of the dam being built near Highway 501 because of its potential impact on Conway homes.

Council members voted to seek legal counsel in regards to filing an injunction against the State of South Carolina, Horry County, and South Carolina Department of Transportation concerning the man-made dam near Highway 501.

Conway council members voiced concern to Conway Mayor Barbara Jo Blain-Bellamy that the sandbags being installed over a 1.5 mile stretch of the Waccamaw River near Highway 501 will make the flooding expected in Conway drastically worse.

"If water needs to get over 501 and they're blocking it, it essentially creates a damn and pushes water into low-lying areas of Conway that are not in flood zones," said Conway City Councilman William Goldfinch.

Council members spoke to the fact that the man-made flood prevention barrier, announced by SCDOT at a press conference Saturday, would flood nearly 1,000 more homes that otherwise would not be affected.

"Have they ran models? Have they ran any scientific data that shows that's not going to happen? We cannot get an answer that says they've done that. In fact we've been told they haven't," said city administrator Adam Emrick.

"These 944 houses that we keep speaking to, they don't have flood insurance because they're not in a flood zone," said Goldfinch.

SCDOT Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said Saturday that the purpose of the barrier was to prevent flooding of Hwy 501 that would make it impossible to reach Myrtle Beach. A second mile-long dam is also being built near Hwy 378 to prevent the Lynches River from flooding out the roadway.

Conway city council members say by stopping the natural flow of the water, an estimated 944 homes in Conway will take on water that otherwise would likely be spared any damage from the imminent flooding caused by now tropical depression Florence.

Horry County Council Chairman addressed the city's motion to file an injunction during a press conference from the county EOC on Sunday. He stressed the need to keep 501 open and clear of flood water in order to transport resources during the flooding. He said after consulting engineers, he does not believe the barrier would adversely affect homes in Conway.

"We do not believe and our state partners do not believe that the flood mitigation project would cause additional flooding in the city of Conway," said Lazarus.

Leaders say they requested information from the state, SCDOT, and the county that would prove that if the dam were to be built, additional homes would not be damaged. No state or county leaders could offer that information, according to council.

"If any water is displaced into homes or into businesses that could have been avoided for those barriers, that's an unacceptable solution," said Emrick.

Based on the information given, council unanimously agreed to seek legal counsel to file an injunction against the county, state, and SCDOT to stop the construction of the temporary dam.

In the press conference Saturday, SCDOT leaders did not address any potential negative effects of the dam.

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