Socastee flood buyout program moves forward with first round of applicants

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Horry County Infrastructure and Regulation committee met to discuss new flooding updates, including the Socastee flood buyout program.

The first round of applications for this program opened up in July, and as of September 1st, it’s now closed.

Right now, the program stands at a 70% enrollment rate with 61 properties funded in the Socastee area. Next Wednesday, consultants will meet with homeowners enrolled in the program to give an overview of the process, including appraisals.

“The Horry County government secured a HUD grant to be able to conduct a pretty, pretty meaningful scale buyout project for families and Socastee that have been affected by what we call severe repetitive losses,” said April O’Leary, flood advocate and founder of Horry County Rising.

The buyout program will pay the cost of buying properties and tearing down homes in flood-prone areas along the Intracoastal waterway.

“The purpose of that is then you can reconvert that area into additional flood storage, you can do restoration activities, you can provide an amenity to the community that is safe for flooding,” O’Leary said.

Officials expect to begin tearing down the homes of round one applicants next spring. O’Leary brought up the concerns of some families who feel they’re being “low-balled” on prices for their properties.

“So one of the things that I think is a barrier with these funds and federal grants like HUD is that you basically get the value of your home pre-disaster storm, pre event, and that’s not necessarily how much they paid for the home,” she said.

However, to help with those barriers, $30,000 for moving costs and low to moderate-income incentives will be built into the program.

“It is something that we’re keeping an eye on to make sure that, you know, we can actually get these families out of harm’s way, and achieve what we’re hoping to achieve,” O’Leary said.

The county also mentioned if homes were there and owned for all three storms dating back to 2015, then three appraisals will happen and they can take the highest of the three. A second application process will begin in late fall and early winter with a pending grant of $6.7 million. 

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