LAURINBURG — Scotland County’s state forest rangers are well-acquainted with handling water, but a chore they’ve taken on this week during a winter of incessant rainfall has been a first.
“We’re trying to move this lake into that swamp,” Jack Franklin explained.
The “lake” in question, behind a Nic’s Pic Kwik at the corner of Barnes Bridge and Johns roads, is ordinarily a grassy field where horses graze. But heavy rains in late December, and little relief from precipitation since, have left it flooded since Christmas.
“I hoped that it would freeze over so I could open up an ice skating rink,” property owner Reed McMillan said ruefully.
Though the field is known to be soggy after heavy rainfall, it usually drains in a matter of days. Not so this year.
“I’ve just kept watching it come up and up and up,” McMillan said. “I’ve got to be proactive and do something, so I went and bought a little pump and tried to keep it at bay, but I’d pump it down two inches and it would come back up two feet.”
The flooding has also backed up septic systems, affecting two homes and the Nic’s Pic Kwik. On Wednesday, the N.C. Forest Service stepped in to save the day in anticipation of several more inches of rain next week.
Rangers set up several pumps in the standing water, which is estimated at several million gallons, directing the water uphill toward Barnes Bridge Road and nearby Bridge Creek.
“Basically we’re trying to help them out and get where they can flush toilets and such as that again,” said forest ranger Neal McRae. “It probably will take about 36 hours of solid pumping to get it out of here with all the pumps running.”
Though the entire county is besieged by mud, McRae said that the Johns Road property has probably fared worse than other areas.
“There’s been a lot of flooding, but it really hasn’t affected people to this extent yet — this has been here and it’s just not going away,” he said.
“Hopefully with this and the subsurface drainage that’s underneath these fields we can get this off of here before the next rain comes and hopefully be able to keep up with it at that point.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.