Weathering the Storm

October 16, 2015

In the aftermath of this month’s unprecedented rainfall event, we’ve been asked by many thankful residents why we fared so well here in our island town with 23 miles of waterfront and dozens of ponds and lakes, while many inland communities experienced such devastating flooding. We went to our engineering firm, Thomas & Hutton, for some perspective.

With almost two feet of rainfall in two days, this storm was the most significant test to our community’s infrastructure and drainage system since development began two decades ago. According to Thomas & Hutton engineer Jimmy Dupree, who oversaw engineering when Daniel Island’s development first began, our community benefits from decisions that were made back then, before most of our neighborhoods and downtown emerged.

“We intentionally built redundancy into the island’s drainage system, and the island’s developer consistently supported us in our recommendations that we go above and beyond the standard drainage requirements to build a good base for the community’s infrastructure,” Dupree says. “Runoff is directed to numerous drainage ponds that are larger than required, and overflow is then directed to the island’s surrounding rivers and creeks.”

Dupree also explains that a consistent development and engineering team working on the project over time has played a big role in ensuring that best practices continued along the way, building upon the quality of the island’s overall drainage network and greatly contributing to why the system functions so well.

But superior infrastructure alone does not make Daniel Island immune to flooding and storm damage. The Daniel Island Property Owners Association is to be commended for doing an excellent job with the ongoing management and maintenance of our community’s neighborhoods and drainage ponds, and also for its professional and proactive response to the occasional severe weather event.

Vice President of Community Services Jane Baker made sure that staff was present on-island during the storm and that contractors were on-call in case of an emergency. Staff was in direct communication with the City of Charleston’s Municipal Emergency Operations center and received hourly updates. Because of this, the few incidents that did occur – including some flooded trails and docks, downed limbs and a small sinkhole in one neighborhood park – were attended to immediately, minimizing the potential for further damage and danger.

Of course, no amount of planning and preparation makes any community bullet-proof. But here on Daniel Island we are thankful that the careful planning and attention to detail that was put into place here before each neighborhood was established functioned as it was intended to during this significant storm. Our thoughts are with our neighbors in need in other areas of the Lowcountry. Please click here to read about how the American Red Cross is helping flood victims in South Carolina, and consider making a donation to help provide relief to those in need.