Proposed SC bill will allocate millions to facilitate flood buyouts

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW)- After catastrophic flooding in Horry County for years, county officials released an interest form this past Friday to see how many people impacted by flooding would want to be apart of a buyout program.

Horry County officials said more than a dozen have returned their interest forms. State law makers are proposing legislation that would allow flood victims to get out of their home for good.

Kim Lovin has dealt with flooding over the years, but after Hurricane Florence she said she’s filling out a buyout interest form. She’s lived in her Conway home for 28 years.

“It’s very sad. We’ve built our life here. We have the house paid off and thats our investment, but I don’t know how much longer I can endure wading through water and bringing my water in and out just to live,” said Lovin.

Despite her home being elevated, Kim has dealth with major repairs and was out of her home for six months. She said continuing to build up isn’t the answer, and after dealing with unprecedented flooding she expects it to get worse.

“We just keep putting money into a money pit and each time we get flooded we think we’re above that level and sure enough here comes the water and we’re not,” said Lovin.

Local lawmakers are trying to help with the Resilience Revolving Fund. The proposed bill will provide low interest loans for home buyouts and flood plain restoration.

FEMA buys properties that repeatedly flood and covers 75 percent of the buy out, but homeowners have to pay the remaining 25 percent which Senator Goldfinch said often people can’t afford after their main asset is destroyed.

“This allows the local government step in to apply on behalf of the homeowner for that 0% low interest loan from the state, which would pay the 25% match to provide those FEMA funds to buy the person out of the flood zone,” said Sen. Goldfinch.

The resilience revoling fund has passed the senate, and is currently in the house ways and means committee. Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford who is sponsoring the companion bill in the house wants 50 million dollars to go towards the fund.

Since passing in the senate, Goldfinch said the bill has gained momentum with several counties passing resolutions in support of the bill. Horry County has not voted on a resolution yet, but Goldfinch is optimistic it’ll pass in Columbia.

“It’s one of these rare situations where you have bipartisan support. The conservative side of the legislature likes the idea the taxpayers shouldn’t have to continue to foot the bill for people that don’t want to live there anymore. The more liberal side says we should be restoring these wetlands, and some of us believe both,” said Sen. Goldfinch.

Goldfinch said even though they’re asking for millions, it’s a loan and will benefit taxpayers in the long run.

Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford also wrote a proviso to allocate money to remove wooded storm debris from the Waccamaw and Intracostal to alleviate blockage and allow water to flow freely.

Horry County officials said they’re working with the delgation to develop a project, but don’t have specifics right now.

The deadline for residents to turn in an interest form is April 3.

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