Horry County leaders optimistic about state floodwater commission

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COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – Dozens of leaders throughout South Carolina are teaming up to better prepare for major flooding events in the state. 

It’s been about three months since the Intracoastal Waterway flooded after Hurricane Florence, but many residents in Socastee are still recovering. The state has a new commission dedicated to preventing destructive floods and Horry County is playing a big role. 

Horry County was hit by two hurricanes in three years, bringing massive floods to the area, but it’s far from the only part of South Carolina to flood.

“How do we make water our friend,” asked Gov. Henry McMaster, R-South Carolina. “How do we accommodate it? How do we use it? We can’t fight it, because it’s everywhere and it’s with us forever.”

Governor McMaster created the South Carolina Floodwater Commission after Hurricane Florence. Ten task forces will look at issues like the environment, infrastructure and financial needs.

Several Horry County politicians and scientists are on the commission, including chairman Tom Mullikin, a research professor at Coastal Carolina University.

“The more voices we have from Horry County, the better,” said Horry County Council chair Mark Lazarus.

Lazarus is on one task force. He says a main project that could decrease the county’s flooding is the long-discussed flood diversion canal, which may cross the border into Brunswick County.

“We’re going to be meeting with North Carolina officials,” he said. “We’ve already got a commitment from several of them to meet with us to start talking about how we can work together.”

Rep. Tom Rice, R-South Carolina, is on a task force for securing federal funds. He says South Carolina could receive about $100 million out of more than $7 billion for disaster relief in a spending bill passed in the House Thursday night.

He says the floodwater commission can use some of that money for recovery or infrastructure projects like Interstate 73.

“That is in addition to any money for housing relief and I would never, ever diminish any housing relief or flood mitigation to build this evacuation route,” said Rep. Rice.

The floodwater commission plans to meet about every three months throughout the state.

The next meeting will be in Charleston in early February.

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