Richland County has completed property buyouts from the historic 2015 flood, acquiring and demolishing 57 damaged properties, and is now turning its focus to rebuilding and repair efforts.
Through funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant program, the county acquired property including substantially damaged homes in designated flood plains. The county has worked with property owners, the majority in the Gills Creek and Denny Terrace areas of Columbia, through the voluntary program since August 2018, according to a news release from the county.
The land affected properties occupied is being returned to its natural state to mitigate future flooding issues, according to the release.
“While it is certainly a relief to have the buyouts and demolitions completed, what is most satisfying to our team is being able to provide relief, support, comfort and assistance to our residents who suffered unimaginable loss due to the flood event,” Mike King, Richland County’s local disaster recovery manager, said in the release. “We hope our efforts helped them, in a small way, return to a normal life.”
The last of the eligible properties was demolished last month, the county said. The final properties were townhomes, and the owners of two chose not to participate in the program. County crews carefully completed the demolition to leave those townhomes intact and added exterior walls for the remaining structures, according to the release.
Richland County is now completing the formal closeout process for the buyout program with the S.C. Emergency Management Division and FEMA. Its rebuilding and repair efforts utilize federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds, which help low- to moderate-income families who were living in owner-occupied homes during the flood.
To date, improvements have included 31 rebuilt homes, 81 repaired homes and 56 mobile homes replaced, the county said.
A video detailing the impact of the 2015 flood and Richland County’s response is available online.s