Does everything come in twos now?

Above you see the rather startling double rainbow over Columbia last evening, shot through one of the front windows of Yesterday’s. Below you see the more earthbound view from several moments earlier.

The gray Jetta across the river — I mean, street — belongs to my daughter-in-law. I had invited her and my son and youngest granddaughter to Five Points for dinner last night. As we were eating, we were aware of how hard the rain was falling outside. Then, we noticed a crowd gathering to look out the the window. Was there a fire?

I went to check, and got the pictures. And yes, their car was flooded. Which makes me feel pretty bad, since if I hadn’t asked them out, their car would have been high and dry in their driveway.

We had to take them home — the parking lot was high enough to be out of the floodwaters, and that’s where my Buick was. Then we had to bring my son back for the bailing. The car started, but it’s saturated.

As you’ll recall, this is the second time in three days that a car belonging to a member of my family has been drenched by the chronic floods of Columbia. (My wife’s car started after the flood receded, but there’s still water squelching under the carpet, and it started to smell over the weekend. We kept trying to sop up the water and air it out, but it kept raining.)

My eldest daughter (unlike me, a Columbia resident) said last night, “I’m not someone who normally says this, but what am I paying taxes for?”

Indeed. I saw Cameron Runyan this morning and advised him, “Here’s a city issue for you.”

This is totally unacceptable. As we were leaving, we saw the business owners fighting the water in their shops. Shoes were floating around in a shoe store. Lights were on everywhere on this Sunday night.

Five Points is a gem for Columbia. But it’s kind of hard to keep a business going when there are whitecaps in the street.

It wasn’t just Five Points last night, of course. I saw someone else stalled in Shandon after the waters receded. And state GOP Executive Director Matt Moore Tweeted this, at about the time I Tweeted out the double rainbow:

Water 6 feet deep on Leesburg Rd, in@columbiasc #sctweets

That’s no everyday occurrence — or rather, it shouldn’t be. That kind of flooding in Louisiana inspired Randy Newman to write this wonderful song 50 years later:

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline…

Let me leave you with a theological question: If one rainbow means it’s not going to flood any more, is a double rainbow a double guarantee? Or is it a toggle sort of thing: One the promise is on; two it’s off? Is it like adding positive three to negative three, so you end up at zero?

In Columbia, I fear that may be the case.

21 thoughts on “Does everything come in twos now?

  1. bud

    I read your comment before looking at the bottom photo and was thinking “There goes Brad with the hyperbole again”. But there really ARE whitecaps on Santee Avenue. This is a serious and ongoing situation. But is there a solution? Didn’t we just re-do Five Points with the purpose of fixing the flooding issue?

    Not to get too political but this would be a much more serious problem had the Green Diamond project ever come to fruition. Thankfully that ended up as a sensible “no build” outcome.

  2. Brad

    Jeffrey Day had this to say about the double rainbow on Facebook:

    “That’s God’s promise to us that the first four feet of drywall in the CVS will be new again….”

  3. Lynn

    Folks in Charleston deal with this whenever it rains during high tide on the full and new moon. If the Holy City survives and thrives why can’t Cola? Lets not be “famously hot” we are now the new Venice of the South. We need a gondola/trolley service.

  4. Mark Stewart

    Lot’s of cities live behind dikes. It’s hardly ideal; but not so outrageous as to say that none of the Green Diamond property should ever be developed.

    Condemning 5 Points as a floodway and turning the area into a park sounds a lot more reasonable.

  5. Karen McLeod

    I’m glad I was at Trinity Cathedral where the water was a mere 4 inches or so deep in the parking lot.

  6. Steven Davis

    You’re going to have to pull the carpet and padding out of both of those cars if you don’t want them to smell like a well used gym sock for the next 10 years.

    BTW – There is no flooding in 5-Points, millions in tax dollars and grants were spent a few years ago to fix that problem.

  7. Juan Caruso

    Excellent photos, Brad!

    As to your rainbow question, there are two prevailing theories …

    1. Al Gore’s: double rainbows and other weather oddities are due to AGW.

    2. Climate Skeptics: Light reflects twice inside raindrops before becoming visible to a viewer’s eye. When incident light is very bright, a secondary rainbow may be visible, brightest at 50–53°.

  8. Brad

    Wow. That guy is WAY more excited about his double rainbow than I was about mine. Maybe he wasn’t coping with the effects of flash-flooding at the time. Or maybe he had just found a whole bunch of peyote buttons…

  9. Steve Fenner

    Okay, people, please try to remember that the “fix” in Five Points was to try to ameliorate the effects of its being below the water table in heavy rain — you can make sure it floods as little as possible by ensuring nothing blocks the flow of water downstream, but it is a catchment basin itself. The only way to “fix” it is to raise it up–which would be prohibitively expensive, as well as destroying it in the process.

  10. Phillip

    It would involve the demolition or relocation of Dreher High School, but I suggest moving 5 Points from its present location to a new “5 Points,” the one created by the intersections of Devine, Millwood, Ott, and Adger. It has the advantage of being up the hill on higher ground, and while the current 5 Points seems to be doing well except for the occasional flood, our “uphill” neighborhood, especially Devine, is still mostly suffering, with more vacant storefronts than I’ve ever seen before there, a few success stories notwithstanding. Just pick up everything and move uphill folks.

  11. Doug Ross

    Throwing money at Five Points would be a waste in my opinion. It’s a tiny area with inadequate parking, a mix of a few decent restaurants surrounded by a bunch of establishments that could be best categorized as “quirky” and at worst “scummy”. And all that “local flavor” is bordered on one side by an area of town that is pretty rundown. It seems like Five Points gets more attention than it deserves because it is within walking distance for a certain group of well connected people. An objective assessment would say that Five Points doesn’t deserve to be at the top of the list when it comes to tax expenditures. There are other places/programs that need it more.

  12. Kathryn Fenner

    @Steven– let me Google that for you.

    @Phillip —
    Much as I would love to have the Five Points “hospitality” moved further from my house and from campus, I think you’d have a huge fight on that one.

    Our own Mark Stewart, a real estate expert, called it well on the issues of Devine Street: when times are tough, there are only so many $28 candles someone’s going to buy. The Devine Street merchants have strongly tended toward the luxury, and Columbia’s luxury market is not very robust. If we could get some more practical merchants-a fewer Fancy Marts (to borrow from the Shop Tart, whose beat is heavily weighted towards luxury places), a better retail mix would help Devine Street. Now, down by Dreher, we do now have a nail salon, and wig store, but that isn’t what I have in mind….we don’t want to replicate the Wig District that is Main Street north of the Art Museum up to the courthouse.

  13. Phillip

    I was joking about moving 5 Points, Kathryn, but I agree about the Devine merchants…I never set foot in most of those places, despite walking by them (with my dog) every day. But I still grieve for the Ben & Jerry’s parlor that left and now sits empty.

    @Doug: Five Points is worth it IMO because it has A) historical value to the city as a gathering spot, B) more than just a “few” decent restaurants and merchants (esp. if you expand the geographic definition slightly) and thankfully some non-chain ones that have clung to life, one of those precious few places in American cities that doesn’t look exactly like a thousand other places, and C) IS indeed walkable from a variety of in-town relatively densely populated neighborhoods…yes, that includes some well-connected people but many more not-connected “plain folks.” Also, as for the “rundown” area, by which I assume you mean Waverly…don’t look now but that northern approach from Gervais and Harden down to Greene St. is definitely on the upswing from what it was even two or three years ago.

    As it turns out with a couple of days’ perspective, that was a freakish density of rainfall the other day. Indications are that 5 Points is draining better during “regular heavy” rain than it used to, but this may just be a fact of life there when it comes to these very extreme situations.

  14. Bob

    Kathyrn and Phillip are both correct; I agree it appears the drainage improved (and never had a chance of being fixed) in 5 Points.

    BUT . . . My wife and I attended a one-hour meeting about connecting The Vista, Main St. and 5 Points Monday. Many (most?; I didn’t keep count) were more concerned about current safety issues for bikes and pedistrians, especially along Assembly St.

    This study is being funded by a “government grant” received by the Columbia Development Corporation. I will keep my source anonymous (unless pressed by my Editor, Brad), but I was told the money needed to be spent.

    IMHO, putting the cart before the horse and the need to spend government funds before you lose them are efficiency problems that must be addressed by politicians at all levels.

  15. bud

    You can always count on Doug to be a Debbie Downer. Seriously Five Points is a terrific and trendy place. I’m with Kathryn on this one. It’s unique with few national chain restaraunts. It’s just to bad it’s afflicted with a serious, and probably unsolvable flooding problem. But as others sugggest maybe that’s something we can all just live with.

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