South Carolina is rebounding from $741 million in housing losses, $137 million in damage to state roads and $35 million in tourism losses resulting from October’s historic flooding, Gov. Nikki Haley said today, though there is still work to be done.
While touting the state’s humanitarian response in the wake of the flood — including $1.6 million raised by the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s flood recovery fund, the One S.C. Fund — Haley said significant needs remain, including residents who are still homeless and private dams that are still awaiting repair.
“We are not done yet, just because the water is gone,” Haley said. “There are still people in need. ... Thousands of businesses were damaged. Sadly, many have closed. We’ve had financial losses for individuals, businesses and whole communities.”
Haley was flanked by government officials, including retired Army Col. Kevin Shwedo, state disaster recovery coordinator, Transportation Secretary Christy Hall, and DHEC Director Catherine Heigel. The governor said she didn’t want to wait until the anniversary of the Oct. 3 storm to address the progress made since then, including the opening of 505 of the 541 state roads closed in the wake of the flooding and the issuing of permits for 25% of the 76 dams given emergency repair orders by DHEC.
Two-thirds of the 36 still-closed roads are related to the existence of unstable dams, while only three dams currently require state intervention, Haley said.
Haley said 1,100 homes have been or are in the process of being rebuilt. She also cited a 7.8% year-over-year increase in hotel revenue — the fourth consecutive year of tourism growth in S.C. — as a sign that flood recovery is progressing well.
Haley announced that Shwedo will be returning to his duties as director of state Department of Motor Vehicles. J.R. Sanderson, the current DMV director of operations who has worked in Shwedo’s recovery office and is the former chief of staff at Fort Jackson, will replace him.
“He has been with Col. Shwedo since day one,” Haley said. “This is not bringing someone new. This is someone who has been doing all the work, and now we’re just going into the next phase. That next phase is very much how we’re going to deal with the housing grant money going forward.”
In February, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated $157 million to the state.
October’s flood left 19 dead and more than 40,000 without water at its peak, according to a release from the governor’s office. It caused more than $200 million in damage to other public assets and $76 million in losses for insured crops while displacing more than 20,000 people.
“We should never forget,” Haley said. “We should never forget that it happened, and we should never forget that it could happen again.”