Surfside Beach gets info ‘we’ve been waiting on’ from FEMA

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – On Tuesday night, Surfside Beach Town Council was told FEMA may be willing to work with them on re-building the pier with concrete.

The town has been back and forth with FEMA for months on how much money it would get to re-build the pier after it was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Back in October, then-administrator Micki Fellner said FEMA wouldn’t budge when it came to their requests to be part of the 428 program and for hazard mitigation. Fellner said, “FEMA has drawn a line in the sand without reason at $5.6 million” to help fund the approximately $9 million project.

The $5.6 million would cover the cost to build a wooden pier but the council unanimously voted in August to build most of the pier out of concrete. Mayor Bob Childs said the cost for that project would be about $9.5 million.

After months of talks with FEMA, acting administrator Kenneth Hofmann said FEMA gave “informal and non-binding, verbal approval to move forward with the town’s requests” of the 428 program and hazard mitigation.

“This will give us the option of going with a better pier,” said Childs. He said the concrete pier design was chosen so the town doesn’t have to deal with another damaged pier when the next hurricane hits.

“This is the information we’ve been waiting on,” Hofmann told the council. “The approval should allow FEMA funding for both replacement of the pier and the hazard mitigation to make the pier more resilient in future storms.”

Childs said he finally feels hopeful the pier could be finished by the summer of 2019.

“Things really look good,” he added. “[FEMA’s] had a lot of issues they’ve been dealing with and I believe finally…I think they’re really sympathetic to our request and we don’t want to lose another summer with this pier down.”

No official contract has been made with FEMA and there is no timeline for when this could be made official. Childs said the town will have another pier workshop once they have an idea of how much money they could get from FEMA.

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