Homeowners in Columbia who were flooded out continued their clean-up efforts Friday, with piles of debris in front of almost every house in some neighborhoods. And as they cleaned out their homes, the city’s water system, which has been on a boil water notice since the flooding, got help from two neighboring systems.
The City of Columbia is bringing in water from the Cayce and West Columbia water systems to help make up for the shortfall caused by a breach in the Columbia Canal. The canal is the water source for about half of the city water system’s 375,000 customers. Water from the canal usually flows into a water treatment plant, but the breach has that water flowing into the Congaree River instead.
The city also continued its efforts to build a dam in the canal to bring the water level back up while repairs are made to the breach. City Utilities Director Joey Jaco said he didn’t know when the boil water advisory would be lifted, but said it would be sometime next week at the earliest.
Because the city’s water is not safe to drink or cook with, Palmetto Health Richland Hospital turned off its water from 6 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday and flushed out its water lines, then sterilized them. It will use a U.S. Army water filtration system once all the lines are tested to be sure they’re clean.
Homeowner Jason Snyder, who lives in one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in the city, was upbeat Friday as friends and strangers worked on his house. Even though almost all of his family’s belongings, along with the walls and floors of his house, were piled at the street, he said, “How can you feel bad when you have all these folks helping, doing this stuff? Now I think a lot of them just like ripping down walls, but it’s still overwhelming.”
Next door, Hazel Brodie had all of her family photos drying in the sun. “I’m hoping we’re going to save the pictures, because that’s all I care about, really,” she said. All of her furniture and belongings have been cleared out of the house, but it’s not at the point of having walls and floors torn out yet.
She said she was amazed at all of the volunteers who were helping. “Friends have just come out of the woodwork, and everybody’s helping everybody,” she said, adding that claims adjusters who’ve worked disasters in other states told her they’d never seen anything like the sense of community in Columbia.