LAURINBURG – Ray Crabtree has lived at his residence in Legion Living Trailer Park on Parliament Avenue for 25 years.
But for the past few months, his home has not been the same, at least the outside. The ditch in front of his home stays filled with water and sometimes overflows onto the highway.
He and others in the neighborhood have talked with local officials,who say it is a state issue. But when residents contact North Carolina Department of Transportation, they were informed that the state did not have jurisdiction either.
“I called and called and called. They came out here and looked at it and they said Mr. Crabtree it’ll go away. Three weeks later it got up. I mean it got to where I couldn’t even see my drive way. I called them back out here. They looked, they said Mr. Crabtree there’s nothing we can do,” he said.
Jerry Ryland, who lives in the neighborhood is also upset. Ryland feels the problem is because DOT won’t open a drain across the road from Parliament Avenue.
“They say it is because it is private property. Well what do you do, who do you see?” Ryland said. “I’m not stupid. They need to get a new engineer. They won’t do nothing. This is the kind of education that you have running the county and all they do is pass the buck.”
But both he and Crabtree said they have spoken with the property owners and have been given permission to do what it takes to bring the water down.
“This ditch is four-feet deep and if a child falls in they’re going to drown,” said Ryland. “When I first moved here I had all my trees cut down. But that snow storm I mean ice storm we had, it started from there.”
Charles Vick, DOT Maintenance Engineer for Scotland and Hoke counties said his department recently worked in the area.
“Cleaning out driveway pipes and a pipe which crosses under Leisure Road. The problem seems to be a blockage off of our right of way in the outfall ditch on the south side of Leisure Road,” he said.
Because it is off the right of way, Vick said the responsibility falls on the property owners.
Vick said DOT will continue to monitor the drainage on the right away of this area.
Crabtree said some work was done last week to the ditch by DOT workers, but the ditch is still full.
“I’m in the process of contacting the governor, senator and all of that,” he said. “It’s gone down a little but not much. They were out here yesterday (Tuesday) but I don’t see much difference they did in getting that water down,” he said. “I don’t know why I have to clean up the state’s property. I am going to clean up ditch on my side of my house. They need to clean up their own stuff.”
He says he plans to fight until something is done because he has grandchildren and he and Ryland agree a child will see the water as fun and not dangerous.
But Crabtree isn’t the only Scotland County resident who is asking for help with ditch issues. Don Wood of Wagram has talked about his issue twice at Wagram town board meetings.
After the February meeting Wood sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory explaining the problem with the ditch.
In the letter Wood stated, “it has backed up so badly that water is now turning a green color. The water is not moving, just standing still.”
He also mentioned the Wagram board members told him during the February meeting they would take the problem under advisement.
Wood like Crabtree is concerned for his grandchildren safety specifically the possibility of getting the Zika virus.
“Last year the did not spray for mosquitos and do not know if they will or not this year. We have five grandchildren and are hoping for two or three more along the way. We would like to see any future children to be as healthy as the first five,” he said.
Unlike Crabtree, the problem with the ditch in Wagram has been going on for years, according to Wood since the 90’s. During these years Wood said county, state and town officials have all said it is their problem.
“So I wrote to then Governor James Martin and he was the only one who said something could and should be done. He got the ball rolling,” said Wood.
He hopes that McCrory will do the same thing.
McCrory responded back in writing telling Wood because the North Carolina Department of Transportation is best situated to address his concerns, the letter was forwarded to their office for review. He also sent it to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. He also encouraged Wood to continue to work with local officials.
Wood mentioned there had been some work done, but the problem still exist. He question the board members about getting a grant as they did years ago, to dig out the ditches and alleviate the problem.
“They shoveled out what they could,” he added.
Vick confirmed his department had been out and tried to get the water moving along.
“We’ve done some work on Woodley Road, where the water supposedly ends from Hill Creek Road. “We’ve tried to dig out each of the pipe and we’ve bought in a truck that shoots high pressure water through the ditch and water is moving slowly,” said Vick.
As in the case with the ditch in front of Crabtree’s home, that is all DOT can do at this point, because the problem is off the right of way and on private property.
“It is a really deep canal with a lot of obstruction, a lot of issues on private property. I guess over the years there is a lot of debris, leaves, trash, etc. Water is moving slowly but it would be better if someone would do some work,” he said.
Maria D. Grandy can be reached at 910-506-3171.