‘There’s nothing we can do about it:’ Energy companies deny responsibility for increased flooding in Horry County

Grand Strand

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — Some South Carolina lawmakers are demanding answers from North Carolina Energy companies — Duke Energy and Cube Hydro — who legislators believe are responsible for flooding in the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee.

The State House-Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee met with Duke Energy and Cube Hydro on Tuesday in support of flood victims.

“We have taken the brunt of this for the last several years,” said Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford, R-Horry County.

Officials with the energy companies denied responsibility of flooding in local communities.

Mark Gross, senior vice president of operations for Cube Hydro, explained Tuesday there has been an unprecedented amount of rain over the last 18 months.

“If it just keeps raining,  the water –  it’ll go over the dam, knock the dam over, whatever,” Gross said. “It’s going downstream. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

State lawmakers suggested raising the dams and mitigating the amount of water that’s released as a solution, but Gross said that wouldn’t help, either.

“There really is very minimal they can do, because if you look at the way the facility was constructed it wasn’t designed to manage high peak rainfall,” said April Thomas, the founder of Horry County Rising who said she is a flood victim.

She said Gross’ response doesn’t come by surprise. Gross argued the systems were only designed to generate electricity, but Thomas said communication could go a long way.

“We need to know when that emergency release is going to happen and where,” Thomas said.

On Tuesday, Cube Hyrdo agreed to better communicate with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on emergency water releases.

“If for 30 years you haven’t done anything, and you know there is a problem then something is wrong,” said Sen. Vernon Stephens, D-Orangeburg.

Thomas is calling for more people to get involved in pushing for change on the state and local levels. She added that a map and an alert system for at-risk homes would play a critical part in preparing residents for rain and flood events.

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