COLUMBIA, S.C. — About a dozen homeowners in a neighborhood next to Fort Jackson are suing the federal government for at least $20 million after dams on the Army base failed during last October's massive floods.
The residents of the upscale King's Grant neighborhood said the Army knew the first dam to fail was deficient after a 2013 inspection and made no repairs, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.
The lawsuit also said the federal government did not reduce the level of the lake behind the dam even as forecasts called for at least a foot of rain in the days before the deluge started.
Fort Jackson spokesman Patrick Jones said Tuesday that officials don't comment on pending lawsuits. Four dams failed at Fort Jackson during the massive flood, and authorities have said little about the inspection histories of the dams or repairs they might have done before the flood.
The lawsuit focuses on an earthen dam built in 1940 to create Semmes Lake. Inspectors looked at the dam in 2013 and sent an email telling the federal government it was a serious hazard, which is the second worst rating for a structure.
The detailed inspection report from the dam has not been released, according to court papers.
The Semmes Lake dam failed about 3 a.m., on Oct. 3 not long after rainfall rates of 2 inches an hour started to fall. Meteorologists said the area received 2 feet of rain in about 12 hours.
Some 200 million gallons of water rushed through a hole in the earthen dam down Wildcat Creek into the King's Grant neighborhood. The water rushed through for about five hours before receding, according to court papers.
More lawsuits are possible. A major business area and a large apartment complex are further downstream and also suffered catastrophic flooding.
This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Semmes Lake.