Residents in the small Carteret County town of Marshallberg are out of patience.
They say the ditch drainage system on the peninsula is poorly designed, clogged and causing major flooding on their properties just after a normal rain.
“Well its water everywhere,” said Hilda Davis, a long time Marshallberg resident.
“I just can’t afford the damages that are happening due to something that can be fixed,” said Ronald Sanders. He and his family moved to the peninsula two years ago and in that time, they’ve had two floods.
“Every time this happens, our family loses money and loses property,” said David Lewis. He has lived in the same house across from the Marshallberg harbor since he was born. He says the house was built in 1943 and never flooded until Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
Lewis has dealt with his home flooding four times since the year 2000. He and his family have spent two Thanksgiving’s and Christmas’s out of their home.
All of Marshallberg should be draining out of one pipe into the harbor, but things are backing up.
“The ditches are no longer ditches,” said Hilda Davis. “They’re washed away and we are getting an unusual amount of water from the back of Marshallberg. It all comes this way trying to get to the harbor to get out but it can’t get out all at one time and so it backs up into our yards and its starting to become a really big problem as far as the homes are starting to flood and rot and it holds me hostage in the house a lot of times I can’t leave.”
Lewis and other neighbors claim that when the ditches were put in in the 1970s by the state, the state and the residents at the time had an agreement that the state would maintain the ditches. But, according to Carteret County maintenance engineer, Gordy Eure of the NC Department of Transportation, he can’t find any record of such agreement.
Lewis said the last time the ditches were cleaned out by the state was when they employed inmate labor in the 1980s.
Now Eure claims since the ditches are on private property, its the responsibility of the property owners to maintain the ditches.
“When we did [clean the ditches], we didn’t maintain ownership,” said Eure. “We didn’t presume ownership of those ditches, it was just done as a community effort.”
When asked about a possible solution, Eure said they will keep an eye on the area.
“[We will continue] to monitor the site, see how it’s performing, and see what we can do to help the traveling public, to help the roadway,” said Eure. “Certainly if the citizens along with the road benefit then that’s even better.”
At the end of the day, residents of Marshallberg want to see the issue resolved.
“Somewhere there’s someone who has the knowledge of fixing this problem and if you’re out there, do the right thing and come round here and help us solve this,” said Sanders.