“So all this water that comes off the highway into the ditch is supposed to flow around the corner but it stays right here,” says Florida Hunt, a deacon at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on Ogeechee Road.
He points to a long ditch filled with water that frankly, stinks. “The only time this ditch drains is when it’s extremely hot,” he said. “Other than that, it just sits here.”
Hunt says the standing water is filthy, smell and attracts mosquitoes by the hundreds. He says it’s been a problem for more than three years and began after repairs were made to increase the height of Highway 17 which runs right in front of the church. Presumably the plan to keep the roadway dry has resulted in making the problems for the church worse. Hunt says the runoff was supposed to be trapped in the ditch and then drain into a nearby canal. While the first step worked, i.e. lots of runoff in the ditch, the second step of the water actually going elsewhere never seemed to materialize.
Hunt says the church has tried to do what it can to mow the ditch, but the water makes it pointless much of the time. “This is a breeding ground for mosquitoes we even have cranes eating out of the ditch, when was the last time you saw cranes by your church or your house?” he asks.
“I just hate to have stink water sitting in front of our church,” he says.
He says several years ago they called Chatham County officials for help but were told the drainage issue must be addressed by the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT). So Hunt says that’s who he called next.
“The state came out twice and looked at it, measured it, walked all the way around to the canal, came back and said well the water’s supposed to drain out to the canal and they were going to get back to me,” Hunt said. “Maybe they died between now and then I don’t know but they never got back to us.”
It’s clear that Hunt and others are simply frustrated at this point saying trying again to contact the state seems pointless. I took pictures of the water in the ditch and emailed them to the DOT, asking if officials could verify Hunt’s assertions that they promised a fix but never followed through. I am waiting to hear back.