Betty Price is just trying to keep her head above water. Literally.
The 32-year resident of St. Joseph Shores has found herself once again in a flood zone on Watermark Way, just outside WindMark Beach.
Last summer’s torrential rains put Price’s yard, garage and utility room underwater and she couldn’t help but see the rain over the weekend as a bad omen of things to come.
When Price woke up on Monday she was greeted by more than nine inches of water in her utility closet and garage.
According to Price, it all started four years ago when a holding pond was installed for the WindMark Beach community.
With no form of drainage on the county-owned land behind her property, each time water levels rose, the pond spilled over into the only place it had to go: Price’s property.
“I know I’m not the only one with problems, but nothing’s been done,” said Price. “We’ve been complaining for six years.
“I want to see some progress in fixing the problem.”
Price’s son, Stan, went before the Board of County Commissioners in September 2009 seeking drainage to be added to the area. Then-Commissioner Bill Williams passed a motion for a feasibility study and cost estimate and commissioners recommended that in the meantime, the Price family invest in a water pump.
In February 2010, the board showed interest in putting together a storm water committee and Williams requested Stan to be on it, though Stan said he has yet to hear another word about it.
Not wanting to pay for the electricity to constantly run a pump, Price reached out to Commissioner Joanna Bryan but reported that the voicemail box was always full.
Frustrated, she called Commissioner Carmen McLemore who put her in touch with Public Works.
When water levels got too high Price would call Public Works and a pump would be brought to clear the area, but this was only a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.
Price said that occasionally the county will leave a five gallon gas tank for her, but two gallons of gas runs the pump for just over two hours and after the gas is gone, the expense comes out of her pocket.
Even then, Price must wade out to the pump, located on the far side of the property with the gas tank and then crank it by hand. She said that it’s not easy to walk out there, especially when carrying the gasoline.
The Star reported on the problem in August last year – the third time this newspaper has spotlighted Price’s dilemma – and though the issue was brought up once by the BOCC in September, it hasn’t been brought up again and Price insists that none of the commissioners have taken the time to witness the problem first-hand.
Unhappy by the water’s return on Monday, Price called Commissioner Ward McDaniel who asked Stan to come to the BOCC’s next meeting, though Price was hesitant to do so since the last visit produced no positive results.
“It’s a losing battle,” said Price. “We’re making fools of ourselves in front of them.”
Bryan said she didn’t believe the problem was a county issue, but she would touch base with her fellow commissioners to see what had been done and what she could do to help.
In addition to the standing water, Price contends with the mosquitos and snakes that the water attracts and said she has waded into the water during a lightning storm to refill the gas tank.
“There were times where I just couldn’t do it and it got to be too much,” said Price. “I was fed up and I was mad.”
Stan said that he’s already had to replace the freezer, washing machine and dryer in the utility closet after the water got into the motors and with the water already over the 8-inch cinder blocks he’d set them up on, he feared for a repeat performance.
Last year, Price paid for her dryer vent to be moved higher when the water constantly flooded it.
“I’ve lost all confidence in our county commissioners,” said Price. “If nothing’s been attempted in the last six years to fix the problem, what’s going to change in the next six years?”