The only boat landing in Cayce is finally re-opening, after being closed since the devastating flood in October of 2015. The Congaree River mangled and disconnected portions the Thomas H. Newman Boat Landing, rendering it unusable. Mayor Elise Parton says she's been waiting for this day a long time -- she received many calls from locals asking when it would finally open back up.
On a warm, sunny day across from downtown Columbia, Parton stands in front of a small crowd. She says she's relieved to finally re-open the only boat landing in Cayce. The dock used to attract more than 100 boats per week, but since the flood locals have had to find alternatives. Parton says she's received a huge amount of phone calls since the storm asking about the Newman Landing, "'When is it going to open? Its striper season; it's catfish season.'"
The Congaree Riverkeeper, Bill Stangler, says he had the same experience, with locals saying, "'I want to get back on the river whether it’s fishing, boating or just somewhere to go.' It's been a constant question. I'm happy I can now answer, 'It's open get to it!"
The morning after the ramp officially opened March 9th, Parton says boaters were lined up.
Stuart Pound is excited to have the landing back. He lives nearby and loves to fish and use the river to relax. Ever since the flood though, he's had to drive across the Congaree to another take-off point. Now, he only has to drive a couple minutes to take his boat out, "Like today, I got off work a little early; it's right down the road, so I enjoy being able to come and get away."
As soon as Parton finished her remarks and cut the ribbon, Pound backed his brown and green motorboat into the water.
Mayor Parton understands seventeen months is a long time to wait for a boat landing to be rebuilt, but she says there were a lot of hoops to jump through, "So technically you have to get denied by insurance, then FEMA, then you work through their channels, then you get a contractor." Eventually, the city of Cayce did receive grant money from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to repair the dock, though many contractors were already tied up with other flood-related work. Cayce also coordinated with the Department of Natural Resources to restore the landing to pre-flood conditions.
The Newman Landing is situated within eight miles of Riverwalk. A major section of that is still in disrepair from the flood. Parton says fixing that remains a high priority.