‘Don’t be thinking FEMA will be coming to assist us on this one’: Horry County leaders share status of flood response

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CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – While parts of Horry County are dealing with the worst winter and non-tropical storm related flood on record, County leaders say aid from FEMA is unlikely.

Randy Webster, Assistant Horry County Administrator, says this is because this is a localized issue.
“Don’t be thinking FEMA will be coming to assist us on this one,” Webster said. “It’s very unlikely that is going to happen. What does that mean? That we will not be reimbursed for costs or services we are providing for this event.”

Webster said in order to qualify for a Presidential Declaration, relief funding from FEMA, Horry County would need to sustain more than $1 million in un-insured damages, while South Carolina would need to sustain more than $7 million in un-insured damages.

“Typically, our floods for the past five years have been connected to some kind of tropical event like a hurricane or something of that nature and we’ve been able to get assistance from FEMA or other agencies in those events,” Webster explained. “This time it’s an isolated event and there are certain thresholds we have to meet to try to get a Presidential Declaration from FEMA.”

Webster said in place of FEMA aid, the County is seeking alternative funding options to help rebuild.

“We will be asking for small business association to activate with low-interest loans,” Webster. “We’re also coordinating with other volunteer organizations that active in disaster.”

County Council Chair Johnny Gardner said he understands there is a need for a permanent solution.

“This is not the first time we’ve had this and it seems to be getting worse every time we have substantial rain,” he said.

City of Conway leaders say the FEMA buyout program and lessons learned from past storms are the reason why they say residents within the City limits aren’t dealing with high waters in their homes.

“We know the river doesn’t just flow through the City of Conway, but as the City we feel confident right now about the situation,” John Rogers, Deputy City Administrator for the City of Conway said. “We can’t stop the flood from coming up but our goal has been to move from it being a disaster to simply and inconvenience”

Right now in Conway, the dog park is temporarily closed, and City leaders are monitoring flood levels at River Front Park on the hour.

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