No Surrender to 2015 Flood Effects for South Carolina Multifamily Housing Property

[Photo 1: Flood waters at Mt. Pisgah Apartments]
Flood waters at Mt. Pisgah Apartments.

[Photo 2: Rising flood waters at Mt. Pisgah Apartments]
Rising flood waters at Mt. Pisgah Apartments.

[Photo 3: Repairs to unit at Mt. Pisgah Apartments]
Repairs to unit at Mt. Pisgah Apartments.

Initially there was nothing unusual about the rain fall that began on October 2, 2015, because it resembled those harmless summer showers that would periodically occur in Sumter, South Carolina. However, within 24 hours the rain became a devastating deluge, and within 48 hours a record breaking twenty one inches of rain had fallen in Sumter.

The record breaking rain fall caused havoc for several residents at Mt. Pisgah Apartments, a 60 unit, 100% subsidized multifamily housing community, located in Sumter where residents awoke to being inundated by the rising waters which surged to approximately six feet in their apartment homes. On-site staff, Tawanda Maxfield, Resource Director, and Sanedra Staley, Property Manager, arrived at the community around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 4, 2015 after receiving distressing telephone calls from residents. Staff initially encountered and witnessed many parents passing their children through windows to escape flooded units; people perched atop cars; and bystanders aiding those who remained trapped in their apartments. Subsequently, staff spent the following two nights at the property along with residents to offer reassurance and assistance, and Richard Hampton, Maintenance Technician, was able to secure valuable resources such as blankets and toiletries. Once the storm ceased, flood waters diminished--it was time to begin rebuilding.

Southern Development Management Company (SDMC) staff from other locations across the Stateassembled at the property. For example, maintenance personnel from other SDMC managed properties drove to Sumter to help the rebuilding process and Gene Newlon, Regional Manager, began organizing personnel and hiring outside assistance for cleaning and rehabbing that would be required to get the apartments ready for occupancy. As a result of the flood, sixteen units in three buildings were uninhabitable. All damaged apartments had to be stripped of sheetrock, insulation and flooring. For the townhouse units, the entire first floor had to be rehabilitated with new sheetrock, insulation, cabinets, water heaters, countertops and appliance replacement. 

Dedicated staff refused to surrender to the overwhelming challenges and worked seven days a week to get the apartments fully repaired and ready for occupancy. As a result of their efforts, all rehab was completed and units were ready for occupancy on December 18th just in time for residents to enjoy the Christmas Holiday in their own homes. 

Finally, although Mt. Pisgah is considered a Success Story, South Carolina has not fully recovered from the destructive flooding. According to Larry Knightner, Director, Columbia HUD Office, more than 102,000 South Carolinians were impacted by the 2015 flooding, and many homes were totally destroyed or required substantial repairs. Therefore, Governor Nikki Haley is coordinating with local and Federal agencies, such as HUD, to develop a Disaster Recovery Support Strategy to assist displaced families remaining in temporary housing or with families and friends.

Jennifer Gibson, SDMC, contributed to this article.  Article prepared by Elaine Bennett, Senior Account Executive, Multifamily Asset Management Division, Southeast Region.


Content Archived: January 16, 2018