LAKE LURE — Nearly three years after first seeking help with what she describes as extensive erosion caused by the runoff of rain, Vivian Whiteside says she’s no closer to a resolution. As a matter of fact, the situation has worsened.
At 86 years old, Whiteside resides in the same house where she was born. She inherited the home-place, located on the lower portion of Bill’s Creek Road in Lake Lure. Since those early days, there has been significant development uphill, atop the mountain. Because of the added development, Whiteside claims to experience more runoff on her downhill property at 314 Bill’s Creek Road. Water ponds in her yard and a ravine on the north side of her house appears to be widening from erosion.
“What I’m afraid of is that it’s going to get beneath my foundation,” Whiteside said.
In recent years, she’s appealed for help from the town of Lake Lure and Rutherford County officials. They kicked the can to the N.C. Department of Transportation since Bill’s Creek Road is state maintained.
Whiteside said DOT has twice installed a culvert beneath Bill’s Creek Road and north of her residence, which drains into the widening ravine. Only, she said, the pipe has since broken, twice, and fallen along with added rock into the ravine that looks more like a valley at present time. Growing vegetation presently conceals the rock, she added.
The expanding erosion, Whiteside said, prompted her to move her utility building 10 feet toward the south to avoid it falling into the ravine.
There are a few areas along Bill’s Creek Road that has led to maintenance work to mitigate water runoff, including that of DOT.
An area directly across the street from Whiteside’s property shows evidence of erosion with DOT installing a drainage ditch. As recently as last summer, Whiteside reached out to DOT officials about how runoff from across the street was crossing over into her yard, contributing to standing water and subsequent erosion.
DOT’s assessment, however, refutes her conclusion.
“In our meeting you expressed your belief that stormwater is overtopping the roadway ditch on the opposite side of Bills Creek Road, crossing over the roadway, and resulting in an undue amount of stormwater draining onto your property. Upon investigating this with you yesterday, it appears that the ditch line and our other drainage features are open and functioning properly,” C.M. Taylor, DOT engineer, wrote on June 24, 2020.
DOT also claims it cannot specifically alleviate her existing problem because it’s private property.
“You also noted that water stands on your property adjacent to your home,” Taylor continued. “Unfortunately, the NCDOT cannot remedy the standing water issue as it is on private property. I am confident, however, that if you implement the suggestions I shared with you yesterday, this issue will be greatly improved.”
According to Whiteside, one of those suggestions included her digging a trench on her property to funnel the water.
“They tell me I need to dig a ditch. Me?” she said. “I’m working myself to death. I don’t have nobody.”
Other than an old dog, Whiteside lives alone. Between her age and a fixed income, she has both limited resources and recourse. Her property suggests these factors are contributing to other residential neglect.
“What am I going to do at my age?” she said.
If anyone knows of any resource, nonprofit or otherwise, that might can donate their services to Ms. Whiteside, please email email@example.com and leave a message along with contact information.