Three weeks after the worst flooding in 500 years hit metro Atlanta, residents in a Lithonia neighborhood remain nervous about reports of any substantial rainfall and the possibility of an encore occurrence of flooding that reached four feet deep inside some homes.
Earlier this week they watched as Crooked Creek swelled again and inched closer to the backs of homes along Stone Mill Manor.
“This is scary,” said Mbalia Kande, standing in the garage of a neighbor’s house on Oct 12 as a light rain fell and she watched the rising creek. “I don’t want my children to see this. I don’t even want them to know.”
Kande, who is in the process of rebuilding the first floor of her home at 633 Stone Mill Manor due to flooding, was one of about 10 families in the subdivision whose homes received severe structural damage and who lost vehicles, appliances, furniture and personal belongings. She’s received two checks from FEMA totaling $3,700 and plans to use it for renovations but is worried about having the work done and facing flooding again, she said.
Several neighbors in Stone Mill Manor said that Abacus Property Management Inc., the management company for their subdivision and several others nearby has not dredged the creek in years. They say they wonder if a buildup of silt and debris led to the creek flooding into yards and homes.
Abacus Property Management Inc. is an Atlanta-based firm that works with condominium associations and 13 homeowner and property owner associations, according to their Web site. They handle financial, physical, covenant and vendor management. The Lakes of Stonebridge Master Association is listed on its site as one of its clients. The Lakes of Stonebridge Master Association is the umbrella group that includes several homeowners associations in the vicinity including: Mountain Oaks, KilKenney, Lakeshore, Northshore, Lakeside, Fair Harbor, Biltmore and Stone Mill Manor.
They say Abacus collected $100 annually from Stone Mill Manor homeowners and they have been told that 99 percent of that money goes to maintenance of the lake that feeds into the creek.
“They haven’t been doing their job. Someone needs to go out and clear that creek out,” said Terrence Daley, who lives at 707 Stone Mill Manor.
Calls to Matthew Levy, president of Abacus Property Management, by The Champion were not returned by press time.
“I realize this event could happen again,” Daley said. “Someone needs to come out and see what needs to be done to mitigate this. If it wasn’t for God, we would have been flooded again.”
Some Stone Mill Manor residents also say they are getting few answers and guidance from county officials and a state leader.
Judith Rose, president of the Stone Mill Manor Homeowners’ Association, said the neighborhood has been visited by representatives from DeKalb County’s water and sewer department as well as engineers sent by the management company. So far, no work has begun on clearing sewage drains or dredging the creek, she said.
Following a heavy rainfall on the morning of Oct. 12, Rose walked with a reporter through muddy backyards and showed where water lapped over the edges of the banks of the creek and thundered down a spillway. She pointed out sizeable piles of natural debris of branches pine straw that she said floated downstream during flooding and remained along the banks of the creek.
According to Rose, who has lived in the subdivision for 11 years, the lake has not been dredged in at least six years.
On her walk back from the creek, a county water and sewer department truck came down the street. Rose asked the inspector if he could tell her when something would be done. He was noncommittal.
Rose said she contacted State Rep. Randal Mangham two years ago about introducing legislation that would force management companies and homeowners associations to live up to the promises they make to homeowners, but nothing has been done.
Calls to Mangham’s office for comment were not returned by press time.