CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – More flood mitigation efforts are a step closer to approval for Horry County residents.
An ordinance to update elevation standards from one foot to three feet, and prohibit critical infrastructure from building in the 100-year and 500-year flood plain, passed second reading in Horry County Council’s Wednesday meeting.
“They are the best flood protection measures in the state of South Carolina and in Horry County this is the first major flood protection and revision that we’ve seen for 30 years; since 1987,” April O’Leary, a flood victim and founder of Horry County Rising, said. “It’s historic and much needed.”
The ordinance describes critical infrastructure as, “Facilities that are critical to the community’s public health and safety, are essential to the orderly functioning of a community.”
O’Leary is on a county flooding sub-committee and said the county can pass mitigation efforts, but cannot control developers’ plans for flood plains.
“There is a common misconception that the county has the authority to prohibit development in flood zones and the reality is, we don’t have the authority,” she said. “The county doesn’t have the authority to do that. It would be considered a taking if we remove a landowner’s ability to develop or profit off their land, even if their lands include flood plains.”
While the Horry County Emergency Operations Center is not in either flood plain, it is in the storm surge plain. The emergency operations center came dangerously close to needing to move locations during Hurricane Florence.
“We had significant problems here,” said Randy Webster, the county’s emergency operations director. “We were cut off. We had significant flooding in the parking lot.”
A new center is under construction in Conway near J. Reuben Long Detention Center. Webster said the project is on budget and on schedule to be finished by the 2022 storm season.
“We will be able to sustain ourselves for 72 or more hours if we lose everything around us,” he said.
The final reading of the proposed ordinance will be held in July.