There were more questions than answers at the public meeting Thursday about the flooding problems in the Church Creek drainage basin in West Ashley.
Weston & Sampson, the engineering firm the city of Charleston hired to analyze the drainage patterns in the flood-prone area, held the discussion at Citadel Mall to preview its findings so far and to answer residents' questions about the study.
During the public comment period after the brief presentation, however, many demanded specifics that the firm simply didn't have yet.
About 50 people attended, and at least 15 spoke.
Allen Locklear of Magnolia Ranch, an area near the intersection of Ashley River Road and Church Creek, asked why the water was backing up there and not draining to the Ashley River quickly enough.
Bob Horner, the project's lead engineer, said the team is still evaluating that issue.
Others wanted to know how new developments such as the West Ashley Circle were contributing to the problems, a question residents have posed for years.
They didn't always like the answers given at the meeting.
When one woman asked for an update of the Long Savannah development planned to the north of the study area, City Councilman Marvin Wagner borrowed Horner's microphone to tell the crowd the planned unit development wouldn't use the same drainage basin and wouldn't add to Church Creek's issues.
The crowd erupted in a chorus of shouts and boo's.
At another point, they cheered when Horner acknowledged the basin wasn't large enough to handle drainage for the 5,000-acre area.
"We're going to have to divert storm water out of the basin," Horner said.
But to many, that wasn't new information.
"Nothing was said that we didn't already know," said Lisa Glover, whose home on Marshland Drive flooded for the third time in as many years during Tropical Storm Irma.
Councilman Dean Riegel, who represents a portion of the study area, said the meeting offered an outlet for the anger that's been brewing there for years.
"I think the biggest thing I saw tonight was a level of frustration and almost borderline anger that this situation has not been mitigated," he said.
Past efforts to fix flooding in Church Creek, including the city's $3.7 million drainage improvement project completed there in 2010, haven't stopped the water from rising and spilling into homes during heavy rainfalls and big storms.
Earlier this year, City Council passed a nine-month building moratorium so Weston & Sampson could study the basin and offer a second opinion of what else needs to be done.
Its final report will be submitted to City Council Oct. 30.
"That’s not just going to be about drainage projects, but also development standards and requirements so that new development will not contribute to the problem," Mayor John Tecklenburg said after the meeting.
On Friday, Tecklenburg is meeting with Gov. Henry McMaster in Columbia about the city's application for Federal Emergency Management funds to buy out the Bridge Pointe town houses in Shadowmoss that have been badly damaged by major floods in the past three years.
He said FEMA recently asked for more specifics about the properties, which he took as a sign of progress.
McMaster's support could help seal the deal, he said.
"We'll ask for his help to talk to the folks in Washington to help us push it over the finish line," he said.