MYRTLE BEACH — Gov. Nikki Haley issued an executive order Tuesday that declared an emergency for Georgetown business owners and residents following the Front Street fire and approved up to $1 million in grant funding for recovery from the blaze.
It is the first time Haley has used funding from the Community Development Block Grant program for emergency purposes, according to officials. The money is dispersed by the S.C. Department of Commerce and represents 10 percent of the unobligated funds.
City officials could not be immediately reached Wednesday morning for comment.
The Sept. 25 blaze destroyed seven buildings in the 700 block of Front Street where many owners lived above their businesses. Officials said 13 people were displaced and 130 employees worked at the businesses.
Haley’s order allows funding to be sent to city and county officials to make improvements on public property destroyed by the fire. The declaration also allows those businesses impacted by the fire to not be charged costs associated with paying unemployment benefits to the more than 100 workers.
In response to the governor’s order, state Senators Ray Cleary, Yancey McGill, and Rep. Carl Anderson released a statement supporting the action.
“This is exactly what Georgetown needs, and we couldn't be more appreciative of the governor's focus on our city and her attention to our people after this devastating fire. As she said when she toured the damage, Historic Georgetown will rise again, and what Governor Haley has done today is hugely important in making that happen.”
Last week, fire victims learned they were eligible for disaster relief assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Loans up to $200,000 are available to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property, said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.
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