Abandoned debris causes Ridgeland store flooding, owner says

Ridgeland, SC (WSAV) – A Lowcountry couple has a major mess on their hands for the second time this year.

They believe piles of debris caused their business to flood twice in six months. Each time it forced Neal and Jagrudi Patel to close the Sunoco gas station in Ridgeland for several weeks.
It’s a mess from the inside out.
“All my woodwork is gone,” Neal Patel said, walking inside the store.

The aftermath of two recent floods is eating away at the business the couple has built up over the past 12 years.
“Repeat customers are not coming back because they don’t know if it’s open or not,” Neal Patel said.
A morning-after- Matthew photo shows the property covered in water. But it wasn’t the first time he’s been left with the effects of a flood. The same thing happened after Tropical Storm Bonnie.
But heavy rain has never been a challenge at his location off I-95’s Exit 22—til this year– when he says debris around his store started blocking the drainage.
“When it rains everything is collected in that drain and it clogs up,” Neal Patel said, pointing to the debris and drain behind his store.
It’s fallen trees- and trash- and wood from the train tracks.
Patel remembers about four years ago the SC Department of Transportation had workers clearing the area. That’s the last time it’s been cleaned, according to him. Patel said he called DOT after Tropical Storm Bonnie and no one came out.
“It’s not my property and I cannot do nothing,” he said.
Wednesday he and his wife took their story to SC Governor Nikki Haley.
That’s after calling the Town of Ridgeland and FEMA.
“I don’t know where to start or who to point to that we need someone to take serious action before another rain comes,” Patel said.
Patel thinks he’ll see the same thing occur a third time at the next big rain if someone doesn’t come out and clean-up.
“And this is not a major job to take care of, this it’s just normal routine work,” he said.
He’s on a search for help that’s adding stress to an already strained business
“We feel like we work hard, our employees work hard to get this business running and still we have to deal with all the stress and expenses that has occurred because of someone else’s fault,” Jagrudi Patel said. “Someone else not cleaning up this stuff and not doing their job right and we have to live with that.”
NEWS 3 called the Town of Ridgeland Administrator, who suggested calling DOT. NEWS 3 spoke to a communications representative for DOT in Columbia Thursday morning and afternoon. She said she put an inquiry out to the regional workers and would get back to us with what she learns.
In the meantime, a spokesperson for SC Emergency Management Division suggested Patel look into low interest loans offered through the Small Business Administration after Matthew as well as the free disaster legal service through the SC Bar.

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