NC: After two decades, Sago Bay HOA gets flood relief from New Hanover County

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Hurricane season is well underway, and Sago Bay community in North Carolina was recently flooded by several feet of water — up to 7 feet in some areas — after several days of steady, higher than average rainfall.

This wasn’t a hurricane or a named storm. That’s what makes homeowners uneasy. If their neighborhood storm water pipe cannot handle a week’s worth of rain, how can it possibly handle a hurricane?

Believe it or not, according to local reports, Sago Bay HOA has reported poor storm water drainage for twenty years. And for two decades, New Hanover County has done practically nothing to help homeowners and residents.

Of course, County officials somehow allowed the original developer of Sago Bay to install substandard, undersized storm water pipe, which they say is the root cause of the community’s repeated flooding.

Didn’t anyone from the County notice this glaring deficiency at the time of construction?

In the videos linked below, you can clearly see the severity of the problem.

The first video features Sago Bay homeowners in chest high water, frustrated and fearful of losing their homes. The second video features New Hanover County pumps  pulling water out of the neighborhood and draining into a nearby creek.

The viewer is told by the reporter and field experts that Sago Bay’s stormwater drainage system is supposed to direct storm water to the creek, but that the poor quality storm pipe is either filled with sand or completely collapsed. So the water simply backs up into streets, driveways, and homes in the subdivision.


No taxtion without representation

Note the remarks in the report featuring the rescue by New Hanover County:

Typically this would be the property owners’ responsibility because the pipes and roads are privately owned, but because this is a safety issue due to the flooding, the county has stepped in to provide assistance.

Wow. Should Sago Bay residents bow down in praise of their County saviors?

It was New Hanover County officials that made a deal with the developer to privatize construtction and ongoing maintenance of the Sago Bay subdivision. It was the with the County’s blessing — or madate — that a homeowners association was created to fund the maintenance of an undersized, inadequate storm water pipe.

Of course, homeowners were not made aware of the problem until years later. And by that time, the developer was apparently long gone.

Then the County waited 20 years to ‘step in to help,’ at a time when the situation reached crisis proportions.

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Due to no fault of their own, homeowners have been putting up with repeated flooding — a growing health and safety risk, not to mention a huge nuisance. They are literally victims of a developer and County that not only failed to meet their needs and expectations, but also more or less ignored their concerns for two decades.

Oh, by the way, Sago Bay homeowners have paid their fair share of property taxes to the County over the past few decades, in addition to HOA assessments. But despite the fact that homeowners in association-governed communities are doubly taxed for certain services, they often receive poor service from their HOA, no service from their County or Municipality, and, overall, very little value for their hard earned dollars.

Now what?

Will Sago Bay homeowners get a nice fat property tax assessment to cover the cost of pumping water out of their neighborhood? After the flood waters recede and the clean up begins, is New Hanover County willing to provide administrative support and real financial assistance to help rebuild the neighborhood storm water drainage system from scratch?

Because, it’s quite clear, that’s what Sago Bay needs.

The news coverage of County supplied water pumps might provide a PR boost in the short run. But it won’t prevent Sago Bay from flooding again and again, or from drowing in huge special assessments to pay for potentially millions of dollars in infrastructure repairs.

The poor drainage has also created damage to the roads in Sago Bay, including some massive potholes. Who will repair roads that have been destroyed by the dysfunctional storm water drainage?

One way or another, it will probably be Sago Bay homeowners.


It sucks. It’s disgusting. It’s terrible’: Floodwaters inundate New Hanover community

Tuesday, July 31st 2018, 1:59 pm EDT
Tuesday, July 31st 2018, 2:49 pm EDT
By: Chelsea Donovan, General Assignment Reporter

Drive into the Sago Bay community off Carolina Beach Road in Wilmington and you are forced to come to a complete stop as the road transforms from pavement to a river.

“It sucks. It’s disgusting. It’s terrible and now we are at the point of losing our homes if this is not taken care of,” resident Bob Turner said. “If we should get a bad storm, we would lose our homes. The water has nowhere to go but up.”

About a dozen homes in the community are inundated with water. Some areas of Sago Bay are covered with more than seven feet of floodwaters.

Lawns resemble lakes. Residents have waders and boots at the ready, many unable to even make it to their driveways.

“This started back in about 1998. The problem arose after Hurricane Floyd,” said resident Charlie Powell. “There was an inadequate draining system, and it’s failing. The pipe is not the right size.”

Powell and others say they been alerting New Hanover County engineers to this problem for more than a decade.

Read more (video):


Muddy roads after flood


New Hanover County steps in to help pull water from flooded neighborhood

Wednesday, August 1st 2018, 11:40 am EDT
Wednesday, August 1st 2018, 2:53 pm EDT
By: WECT Staff

Crews began working Wednesday to pull water from the Sago Bay community off Carolina Beach Road where the water stands 7-feet deep in some spots.

According to New Hanover County officials, a 12-inch pipe was crushed so the contractor is working to establish a flow for drainage.

“We believe the contractor used by the developer damaged the pipe and camouflaged it and then we exposed it,” said County Engineer Jeremiah May.

Driveways were being cut Wednesday the pipe is being replaced, but it’s unclear when the work will be complete.

“We are setting up a 4 inch pump and we are going to draw down the pressure before we open that pipe up,” May said. “The pipe is 80 percent clogged up with sand coming from Sago Bay community.”

Read more (video):

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