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Will Wheat
Coastal Grand Mall

“It sounded like a bomb went off.” Coastal Grand water lines collapse

Another water main valve let loose at the mall by the Coastal Grand cinemas today.

Said, Meghan Proctor, “It looked and sounded like a bomb went off.”

Proctor, her husband and two children, are visiting on vacation from Virginia. Proctor parked near the cinemas at Coastal Grand Mall. When the explosion occurred, she said, “I grabbed my two children and ran for my life.

MyrtleBeachSC news was fortunate to be on the scene, when the explosion happened, leaving a 5 foot hole in the ground and blowing asphalt as far as 15 feet away from the site.

Marleny Hensely Hucks, who was at Perfume City, inside the mall, said the mall asked all merchants (who parked near the cinemas) to move their cars immediately as a result of the heavy flooding caused by the explosion.

This is the 7th recent event when one of big water valves broke at coastal mall. Sources, close to the city, state that the contractor who installed the valves did not use stainless bolts. The bolts that were installed are now rotting out. Sources say the city of Myrtle Beach has known about this issue for a year.

Concerns from staff (inside city government) are that, in their words, “it is just a matter of time before one of these things cuts loose and someone is hurt.” No one was injured in today’s explosion.

We reached out to Ed Carey – Candidate for City Council

Ed Carey

Ed Carey said, “It is sad day for the city. This event is just another example that the city needs to focus their priorities on infrastructure, as well as, public safety. The city recently released their 4 year capital improvement budget of which about half of that $79 million is for City Hall.”

Between the city and county, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce continues to be tax subsidized to the tune of $50 million annually. The Myrtle Beach Chamber readily admits it targets first time visitors. Questions remain if these first time visitors are returning? It is time for the city and county to un-bundle all restricted tax funds that could be used to alleviate these problems,” Carey added.

Gray says pay attention to infrastructure

Wayne Gray – Candidate for Myrtle Beach City Council

In his statements to MyHorryNews, candidate for Myrtle Beach City Council, Wayne Gray stated he believes it is time for the City of Myrtle Beach to make underground infrastructure as high of a priority as downtown redevelopment.

Curry not available for comment

Janet Curry, Director Myrtle Beach Public Works (PW) Department

The Myrtle Beach Public Works Department is headed by Janet Curry. We reached out to her in July when a USA today national article broke on beach water quality. Mrs. Curry did not respond to our requests for comments back then.

MyrtleBeachSC news wrote about those beach water infrastructure issues this past July 26th. Read that article here: https://myrtlebeachsc.com/city-of-myrtle-beach-rates-s-c-s-dirtiest-bacteria-beach/

Sources inside the city believe ongoing issues related to crumbling infrastructure affect oceanfront beach bacteria spikes in city swashes. While the City of Myrtle Beach tests unsafe for swimming over 20 percent of the time, other beach towns, including Pawleys Island, Beaufort, and Charleston test unsafe less than 1% of the time.

Facts are Myrtle Beach is rated South Carolina’s dirtiest oceanfront bacteria beach by 2019 S.C. DHEC reports. Our news team, USA today, and the Charleston Post and Courier each featured articles related to these facts this past Summer.

WHAT’S THE CORRELATION?

The City of Myrtle Beach has spent little on underground pipes since the 1970s. The Pine Lakes area of Myrtle Beach still features outdated clay pipes that leak and seep bacteria into the ground water.

Outdated Clay Pipes under most all of Pine Lakes neighborhood

Problems with using outdated clay sewer pipes

  • Susceptible to root intrusion and leaks: Tiny tree roots can enter loose clay plumbing joints, growing bigger and breaking away the clay as time goes by. Old, crumbling clay pipes can result in expensive sewer repairs.
  • Low tensile strength: The high compressive strength of clay makes it difficult to crush, but it has low tensile strength, which means it will snap under extreme pressure. To prevent this, clay sewer pipe should ideally be encased in concrete, but this increases installation time and cost.

Rusting, decaying infrastructure

Myrtle Beach Sewage Pipes
Rusted city of Myrtle Beach sewage pipes. High profile leaks and collapses concern locals.

Around Withers Swash, pipes are thin and collapsing. Sources inside the city state that 5 miles of pipe are thin and need replacing. According to those sources, a grown male can push the pipe in with his thumb. These pipes leak and seep into Withers Swash as well. Withers Swash tests unsafe for swimming 46 percent of the time when 3rd Avenue South Oceanfront is tested by DHEC.

Asbestos pipes are still used city-wide. Pipes too small in diameter for increased tourist numbers are common complaints among public works department employees.

Public Works repair today’s main explosion at Coastal Grand

Half the town has too little water pressure

As a result of poor planning with water and sewer infrastructure, half of the city of Myrtle Beach residents have low water pressure. On Monday, September 30th, the city of Myrtle Beach public works installed a new two inch water service pipe around the home of Mayor Bethune on 36th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard so as to resolve her low water pressure issues.

36th and Ocean Boulevard home

WE REACHED OUT TO THE CITY MANAGER AS WELL

John Pedersen
John Pedersen, City Manager.

MyrtleBeachSC news reached out to City Manager, John Pedersen, as well.

John,

*How many of those valves failed in the last year at the Coastal Grand mall?
*How many total valves surround the mall? 

*Why are those valves failing? (Bolts)

*Why are the bolts failing?

*Were stainless bolts required? 

*Why were stainless steel bolts not used by contractor?

*Who was the Capital Improvement Project Manager assigned to that project? 
*Are there preventative measures in place to replace the remaining bolts so no one gets seriously hurt? 
*Is the same person in charge of PW also the same person who spent over 800k by mandatorily making every PW employee and police officer to stay at the convention center during Florence? 

*What is the name of that city employee? 


*John – What departments are under PW?  

As of this publication, the City Manager has not yet responded.

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About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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