South Raleigh flooding renews battle over drainage problems
Posted October 21, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — In the two weeks since Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina, recovery efforts have focused on flooding in eastern counties, overshadowing the high water some Raleigh businesses experienced.
Durham Drive south of Tryon Road is prone to flooding in heavy rains, but Matthew caused unprecedented damage to more than a dozen firms in the Tryon Business Center, including a plumbing contractor, air conditioning repair service and a printer. Water marks are still visible about halfway up office walls, and mold and mildew are setting in.
"(We had) 5½ to 6 feet of water in the building. Anything below that was saturated," said Paul Salone, the president of Mosquito & Pest Xperts. "We lost five vans. We lost all our tools, our supplies. I mean we lost everything."
Down and Out Bail Bonds lost 90 percent of its records and equipment, owner C. Ray Evans said.
"All the computers and everything was floating. It took them from the desk, and they were floating," Evans said.
The business owners said they are frustrated that Raleigh officials and the owner of Tryon Business Center haven't found a solution to their long-running dispute over who's responsible for fixing drainage problems in the area that cause the flooding.
Stormwater management officials with the city accuse the owner, Michael Weeks, of not maintaining private drainage pipes, while Weeks says the city permitted the pipes and insists that the flooding problems didn't start until the city built a nearby service road and caused runoff.
"Something needed to be done, and something wasn't done," Salone said. "This could have been prevented."
Weeks, who has been helping businesses clear up debris left from Matthew, declined to comment Friday.
Blair Hinkle, Raleigh's stormwater program manager, said the city is "actively pursuing resolution" to the flooding on Durham Drive, but he again blamed the drainage pipes for the problem.
"All City of Raleigh drainage infrastructure in the area is free from obstruction and would function normally if the privately owned conveyance downstream of Tryon Road were flowing freely," Hinkle said in a statement.
"Hopefully, it will be resolved before anyone else goes through this same problem," Evans said. "It's too late for us."
Salone said he's still reeling from the damage, but he is determined to rebuild.
"We have a customer base that we're committed to," he said.