HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — About one-third of the eligible homeowners in Socastee have not applied for the flood buyout program.
South Carolina leaders allocated $15 million dollars of its $163 million from the federal government to flood relief in Horry County. The county decided to put $2 million dollars toward infrastructure improvements and spend the rest on buying out properties that have repeatedly flooded in the Socastee area.
Of that $13 million, it targeted 61 homes in Socastee. Of those, 41 have applied for the buyout program, according to Cam Crawford, a member of the Horry County Council.
One of those homes belongs to Terri Straka, who has been waiting for this opportunity for years.
“I was probably one of the first ones to get my application in,” she said.
While Straka said she still doesn’t want to leave her home of nearly 30 years, she feels she needs to in order to stay safe.
“We put our roots into this area,” she said. “It’s extremely emotional. There is a lot of trauma.”
Straka worked closely with Melissa Krupa, a fellow Socastee flood victim, the past few years to advocate for a buyout program. Krupa rebuilt after Hurricane Matthew, but decided after her home flooded during Hurricane Florence, she was done.
“After the 2018 flood I was like, ‘We have to do something,'” Krupa said. “Something is wrong.”
While Krupa and Straka submitted their buyout applications as soon as they could, not everyone was as quick to do so.
Straka believes homeowners are concerned about the “invasive” process and feel they can get more money for their homes by putting them on the market, rather than taking a buyout.
“I don’t think anyone is trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes so to speak when they sell their house out on the open market,” she said. “It’s just that you’re utilizing the capital market.”
Krupa agrees and worries that the problem will continue until all the properties eligible become greenspace.
“I’ve been looking for over two years now and the problem is that I had to refinance my home, so I can’t access another loan until this one is paid off,” she said. “So, I can’t even find anywhere. If you do find somewhere, you need to be on it within 48 hours.”
County leaders extended the application window for eligible homeowners in hopes they can get closer to the 61 mark . Crawford believes good participation in the program could mean more flood relief in the future.
“The closer we get to that 61 number, that increases the likelihood that we’re able to help more people in the future in Horry County because I think we could go back and request a second, and maybe even a third round of funding for buyouts,” he said.
While Straka and Krupa wait for their applications to be approved, Krupa lives in Pennsylvania and Straka continues her home search in Horry County.