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McMaster asks for $1.2B in federal disaster relief

Staff Report //September 20, 2018//

McMaster asks for $1.2B in federal disaster relief

Staff Report //September 20, 2018//

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S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster sent a letter today to the S.C. congressional delegation requesting $1.2 billion in federal disaster relief for 23 S.C. counties affected by Hurricane Florence.

The letter asked President Donald Trump, who toured parts of North and South Carolina dealing with storm-related flooding on Wednesday, to authorize federal disaster recovery funds in several categories, including repairs for public assets such as highways and bridges and individual assistance to replace or repair homes.

On Monday, Trump declared eight S.C. counties eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s public assistance program for costs associated with emergency actions during the storm. Counties included in that disaster declaration are: Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Orangeburg and Williamsburg.

McMaster’s letter asked for additional support for those counties, as well as for Calhoun, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Fairfield, Florence, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Marlboro, Richland, Sumter and York.

Today, UnitedHealth Group donated $500,000 to the One SC Fund, the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s disaster relief program. The fund, begun in November 2015 after the historic floods a month earlier, provides grants to nonprofits providing assistance in the aftermath of state-declared emergencies.  

“We're deeply concerned about the impact to South Carolina, and we are committed to helping rebuild the state,” Garland Scott, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of the Carolinas and Georgia, said in a news release. “We hope other individuals and businesses will consider donating to the One SC Fund and the rebuilding process. I really want to thank the leadership of Governor McMaster and the whole team that is working so hard on behalf of South Carolinians.”

Florence, which made landfall on Sept. 14 as a Category 1 hurricane near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., before commencing a slow, days-long crawl across South Carolina, caused flash flooding in Chesterfield and Lancaster counties, according to the National Weather Service. In a briefing earlier this week, McMaster said state relief efforts were turning toward river flooding in coastal areas and the Pee Dee River Basin.

“The rainfall and flooding in North Carolina is sending unheard of amounts of water into South Carolina along the Lynches, Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers,” McMaster said in Thursday’s letter (.pdf). “The damage in the northeastern part of our state will be catastrophic, surpassing anything recorded in modern history.”

McMaster’s letter included preliminary estimates of the financial impact of the storm from the S.C. Emergency Management Division and the S.C. Disaster Recovery Office. Those estimates are:

  • Community Development Block Grant, disaster recovery ($540 million)
  • Disaster Relief Fund: ($300 million)
  • Federal Highway Administration ($18 million)
  • Agriculture ($125 million)
  • Small Business Administration ($80 million)
  • National Flood Insurance Program ($165 million)

Agricultural losses include a significant portion of state’s the cotton crop and a moderate loss of soybeans and peanuts, the S.C. Farm Bureau said in a news release. Fall fruits and vegetables will also be affected, and livestock losses, though still being assessed, are expected to be substantial.

S.C. Farm Bureau has established the SCFB Agricultural Aid Foundation to help families affected by the flood, the organization said. The fund is a 501(C)3 foundation, and contributions are tax-deductible.

“Hurricane Florence significantly impacted the Pee Dee region, where the majority of our state’s crops are grown,” SCFB president Harry Ott said. “We are working with our farmers and officials to get everyone back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, part of a system that supports rural communities and agriculture throughout the U.S., has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to support Hurricane Florence relief, the organization said in a news release. CoBank, a Denver-based Farm Credit System bank, has also pledged $100,000 for Red Cross relief efforts.

“The effects of this hurricane are going to be felt for a long time in the Carolinas and beyond. We know the Red Cross will use these funds to help alleviate some of the suffering taking place now and in the difficult days ahead,” AgFirst CEO Tim Amerson said. “We stand strong with our friends and neighbors throughout this region as they navigate recovery from this disaster.”