Michael Hogue has learned to watch the weather reports.
For each stormy forecast, he expects a river of mud to rage through his yard. When it's not that, it's a broken water line adding to the slimy silt covering his yard up to his home's foundation on Berzelia Road in Grovetown.
It started three months ago when the city laid a water line to service new developments farther down the road and in preparation for the dirt road to be paved.
"We have had no real problems in 16 years until they laid that water line," Hogue said. "It immediately became just horrid. We complained and they came out and graded the road, which just aggravated things really. When it rains, the road ends up in our yard."
Hogue saidthe dirt road had sufficient water control, including drainage ditches and berms, to direct excess water into a bog across the road. The ditch was removed after the line was installed, leaving the water no place to flow except down Hogue's driveway, causing heavy flooding of his yard, including a 74-foot rose garden, numerous other plantings and a koi pond. The water also carves deep ruts in the driveway.
Ever since construction crews changed the slope of Old Berzelia Road in Grovetown, the rain washes mud from the road through Michael Hogues yard.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
In the meantime, silt, mud and water had built up as much as 7 inches around all the doors, so getting in and out of the car was a barefoot and messy ordeal, said Hogue's wife, Pamela.
After complaining, a county crew regraded the road.
After recent heavy rains, the Hogues had no idea where to go for help, so they called Mayor Dennis Trudeau on June 6 in the middle of a flooding to see the muddy river first-hand.
Trudeau said the county crew graded the road improperly, though Kevin Lear, Columbia County'sconstruction and maintenance director, said the crew graded the road the same they have been for years, which is not the problem. The problem, Lear said, was the removal of the ditch when the water line was laid and the clogging of the drain pipe leading under the road.
"In the middle of the rain, he called me and I went out there and looked at it and told him what we were going to do," Trudeau said. "We are going to get the grader to come out here and fix that ditch so the water would be turned away from his property and as soon as possible we were going to get in there and really scrape out his driveway and fill it with crush-and-run and rock."
The following Friday, Hogue returned home from work to find a leak in the newly moved water meter in front of his home. After calling City Hall, a city worker came out and said since the meter was moved, it keeps filling up with silt, according to Hogue, and the worker turned the Hogues' water off.
The Hogues said the worker did not tell them when the water would be turned back on or that repairing the leak, which was just on the property side of the meter, would be their responsibility to fix. All they knew was that there was no water for the couple and their four children.
The road was regraded the following Tuesday as Trudeau promised, but the water was still off.
Trudeau was shocked to hear last Wednesday that the Hogues were without water and it was still off. He made a call immediately to the water department and told them fix the leak and turn the water back on regardless of where the leak was. The work had been completed before he called Wednesday.
"I could not understand them being without water that long," Trudeau said.
The Hogues' immediate problem has been solved - until the next heavy rain, Hogue anticipates.
"It is a lost cause until the problem is cured," he said. "We are dealing with the effects. It will keep happening every time it rains until the problem is fixed. It is going to take a road crew to do that."
Until the road is paved, handling the construction's effects are temporary Band-Aids, Hogue said.
According to Lear, the paving is on hold by the Georgia Department of Transportation, who is supposed to contribute $55,000 to the project.
"Our best guess is the road will be paved after July 1," Lear said. "Everything is ready to go. We have the design, the right of way, it is certified and drainage and everything has been submitted to the state.
The state is short on funds, Lear said, so the funds probably will not be contributed to the project until after the new fiscal year begins July 1. After that, the county will bid out the project and approve a bid, making contract award hopefully in September, Lear said.
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