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Flood UPDATE: Columbia Chamber to house county Business Recovery Center

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A set railroad crossing arms on S.C. Hwy 41 near the Black River in Andrews remain down and the lights are still operational, however, the train crossing itself sits under several feet of water. (Photo/U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Brian Calhoun)


Staff Report
Published Oct. 19, 2015
The Columbia Chamber will host representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration until further notice in an effort to help business owners apply for Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Through SBA, these loans are available to businesses affected by this month’s historic rainfall and flooding in South Carolina.

The disaster declaration covers the following counties: Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Greenwood, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Orangeburg, Newberry, Richland, Sumter, and Williamsburg. In addition, small businesses and non-profits in Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Beaufort, Chesterfield, Dillon, Edgefield, Fairfield, Hampton, Lancaster, Laurens, Marion, Marlboro, McCormick, Saluda and Union counties are eligible to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans only.

The center will be open at the chamber’s headquarters, 930 Richland St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays until further notice.

“The amount of damage in our region has been overwhelming, but the outpouring of support has been heartwarming,” says Carl Blackstone, president and CEO of the chamber. “Now is the time when we help businesses reopen their doors. I encourage those who have been affected, both physically and economically, to spend a moment to talk to a representative from SBA.”

The last day to apply for physical property damage is Dec. 4 and the final day to apply for economic damage is July 5, 2016.

Additional information on the disaster loan program may be obtained by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to Loan applications can be downloaded from Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at

Riverfront Park closed: The downtown park at 312 Laurel St. will remain closed to the public while workers repair damage caused by this month’s historic floods, the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department announced. The repair work is expected to take up to 30 days, the agency added.

More floodplain repair permit open houses: The City of Columbia and Richland County will hold two Floodplain Permit Repair Open Houses today to answer questions about permitting for flood repair and rebuilding. The sessions will be from 5-6:30 p.m. at Woodland Park, 6500 Olde Knight Parkway, and 7-8:30 p.m. at M.L. Smith Community Center, 5213 Farrow Road (across the street from the Greater St. Luke Baptist Church).

The open houses are designed to answer homeowner and contractor questions about the permitting application process in a one-on-one setting.  Spanish interpreters will be available. No permits will be issued at these meetings. City permits can only be issued at Washington Square, 1136 Washington St.

Scammers targeting home, business owners: As home and business owners seek repairs for property damaged by flooding, several agencies urge caution to help avoid being scammed by FEMA impersonators or illegitimate businesses, according to Richland County officials.  Here are some key links:
Click here for information from the Richland County Building Inspections Department about making careful decisions when it comes to repairs.
Click here for information from FEMA about those who pose as federal officials.
Click here for information from the IRS about a consumer alert regarding scammers taking advantage of South Carolina flood victims.

Heroes helping the community: Richland County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is teaming up with Buffalo Wild Wings, 4500 Devine St., to help raise funds for local flood victims. Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10% of proceeds from today and Wednesday to the American Red Cross flood relief efforts in the community. EMS representatives will be at the restaurant to meet and thank patrons for helping with the fundraiser.

Well water testing: Residents with wells should take precautions to ensure their water is safe to drink, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC offers instructions for disinfecting wells and well water testing supplies and results at some of its locations. For more information, click here or visit

Lower Richland donation drive: County Councilman Kelvin Washington, District 10, has organized a donation drive for the Lower Richland community. Donors can drop off items from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Saturday, at the warehouse located at 1601 Shop Road. Items needed are non-perishable food items, furniture, baby diapers and wipes and bottled water. (At this time, clothes and shoes are not needed.)

FEMA offices: FEMA mobile offices are at two Richland Library locations to assist residents affected by the flood with registering for disaster assistance, from 8 a.m.-7 p.m., daily:

· Richland Library Southeast, 7421 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia.

· Richland Library Eastover, 608 Main St., Eastover.

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