Fort Jackson Releases Info Confirming Dam Failures Led to Flooding
Columbia is still recovering from the flooding which occurred following the Semmes Lake Dam Breach. After more than thirty days of silence, Fort Jackson officials released a statement confirming breaches on the western side of the Fort Jackson military base could have contributed to flooding in Columbia.
Reportedly, a total of four structures were impacted during the strom. A major break occurred at the Fort’s Semmes Lake Dam as previously reported. Fort Jackson officials now acknowledge that a dike at Lower Legion Lake, which held water back not far from Semmes Lake, also broke during the floods. Base officials further acknowledged a third break, but have not specified where and/or how much damage resulted from that breach. The US Army Corps of Engineers is still investigating.
Fort Jackson is a military complex of about 52,000 acres, with 28 lakes and ponds on the property. The base is responsible for maintaining these dams, as they are on military property.
The Strom Law Firm is representing several dozen residents of the King’s Grant neighborhood, which suffered flooding as a direct result of the Semmes Lake breach. The firm has filed a notice of claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Government has 6 months to respond. The Government may accept liability or require the firm to file suit.
“It is disappointing that it has taken them 30 days to acknowledge to their neighbors that this occurred,’’ said Pete Strom, who says he has had difficulty getting information from Fort Jackson to help his clients with their legal options. “Hopefully, they will be willing to step up and take responsibility and fairly compensate people for their losses.”
“Fort Jackson makes no representation as to whether the United States has any legal liability for any claim that is submitted,’’ the fort said to reporters from The State newspaper. “The public should be aware that certain legal defenses may be available to the United States government. Should you have questions as to the merits of any claim, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own legal counsel.”
Meanwhile, neighborhood residents whose homes and property were damaged by the flooding say they hope legal action can get to the bottom of Fort Jackson’s potential failure to maintain the dams and protect civilians. One resident of the Lake Dogwood area, Monte Lemmon, said that he and his neighbors think that Fort Jackson’s dike system must have had an impact on their neighborhood.
In fact, Lemmon and some of his neighbors are concerned that the base intentionally released water during the historic flooding in order to protect the base – to the detriment of the civilian neighborhoods around them. Neighbors say that, if water was released on purpose, they should have been warned, but they received no notifications from the military base.
The Strom Law Firm continues to investigate Fort Jackson’s potential liability. If you live near the military base and your home or property suffered damage due to the storm, contact us today.