Woman stranded by washed-out driveway has few legal options - CBS46 News

Woman stranded by washed-out driveway has few legal options

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Three weeks of rain have cut off essential services to a Northeast Richland County woman's home.  Heavy rains have pushed ponds and streams to capacity.

Pattie Wethington-Vorel's home day care business has been shut down for the last two weeks because a six-foot-deep sinkhole that essentially has her landlocked.

"None of my parents can get to me," she said. "They've all had to find alternate care.  It is costing me business. I've lost some families due to this."

Two weeks ago Tuesday, in heavy rains, the water surged over the dam and Jay Drive North, creating a sinkhole and stranding Wethington-Vorel and her kids. 

The problem is, it's not her land. She has an easement to use Jay Drive to get to her home.  Wethington-Vorel is at the property owner's mercy.

The owner, Ronnie Flynn, talked to us by phone.  He said he has construction crews at the ready to fix the roadway, but needs two dry days before work can start.  He asked Wethington-Vorel to pay for half.

"At which point I said no," she said.

The road is on Flynn's property to his own admission, but he never uses it.  It could cost up to $10,000 to fix.  He said a new housing development's run-off now runs into the stream that feeds his ponds, increasing the volume of water. 

Here's the problem when it comes to smaller man-made ponds:

"There is no regulation," said Wethington-Vorel. "There's no permits that need to be built, there's no permits to either make any alterations to the pond, so they're not regulated at all. They have no control over it. It's between the owner and I."

DHEC does regulate dams and reservoirs but only if the dam is larger than 25 feet and if the lake or pond is larger than a 50 acre feet -- that's one acre at one foot deep times 50. 

Even then, it has to be a public threat.  Wethington-Vorel is the only one the pond affects.  As the rain continues, it only gets worse.

"It takes away more of whatever is here because it does go down into the hole, more trees fall," she said.

Leaving her to plead with Mother Nature to let the rain stop and hopeful Flynn can make repairs soon. 

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