In the midst of a pandemic and with hurricane season approaching, lawmakers in South Carolina are grappling with how to secure additional funds for disaster relief, and members of the State House are proposing the creation of a new office to lead relief efforts.

A House panel agreed on Wednesday to pass changes to a Senate bill that would have required $ 2 million from the state budget to establish the South Carolina Revolving Resilience Fund Act, a bill that would provide loans and grants to local governments to purchase flood-prone properties and land to complete floodplain restoration.

The proposal would create the South Carolina Office of Resilience, an advisory board and a chief resilience officer, a post appointed by Governor SC Gov. Henry McMaster called in his executive budget to manage the resilience reserve fund and how the state is responding to climate-related natural disasters. The fund would be separate from the general state fund.

“In addition to creating the offices, we are removing all of this from the Ministry of Administration,” subcommittee chairman Nathan Ballentine, R-Chapin, said at the meeting, which was held virtually. “Everyone agreed that maybe it would be better for this fall to fall under the Office of Resilience. It’s an interesting concept here.

According to the bill, the new office would develop, implement and maintain the statewide resilience plan, coordinating disaster recovery efforts between federal, state and local government agencies. This is a very important issue for the present and the future of South Carolina, said Democratic Representative Leon Stavrinakis.

“While some may think this is just coastal legislation, it really isn’t,” the Charleston lawmaker said. “The flooding is impacting all parts of our state and country, and South Carolina’s recognition and search for solutions on this front is essential to our citizens and a great example of great leadership.”

South Carolina has been hit by several storms, including hurricanes, which caused extensive damage and deaths from high winds, heavy rains and flooding.

In 2015, a rainstorm that lasted several days swept through the state, causing extensive flooding in Colombia and elsewhere in the state after water ruptured rivers and dams.

The House spending plan, which the chamber passed before the pandemic hit the state in March, provided $ 50 million all at once to launch a contingency fund for disaster relief and resilience statewide to help mitigate risk, improve infrastructure, and establish a statewide resilience plan. Corn COVID-19 has shaken up House budget plans, postponing discussions on creating the fund until at least next year.

Currently, local governments or municipalities have several ways to apply for federal funding, including a grant where up to 75% of the total project cost is made available to purchase properties in flood-prone areas to turn them into green spaces. or restore them to their natural landscape, Derrec Becker, spokesperson for SC’s emergency management division, said.

The Senate version of the bill would allow local officials to use state funding, instead of money from local budgets, to find the remaining 25%.

“A percentage of the total cost of the disaster is made available to the state through the risk mitigation program,” Becker said. “Once a major disaster occurs and we secure mitigation funding, they can apply through (SC) EMD for a procurement project.”

State Senator Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet, told The State he sees the legislation supported by both parties as a “starting point”, where state and local governments join together in the process so that taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for sunk homes. , easing the burden on homeowners who are strapped for cash.

“Homeowners need relief, local governments need relief and quite frankly the state needs relief from this problem,” Goldfinch said.

This story was originally published 9 September 2020 13:23.

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