Here’s why it’ll take years to recover $18 million Horry County’s spending on Florence

The relief effort following record-level flooding was the focus of the first half of the Horry County Council meeting Tuesday.

Council members approved an act to rededicate unassigned funds in the budget to help cover the expected $18 million needed to meet the estimated cost of the relief effort.

These funds could be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency up to 75 percent. In past storms, the state of South Carolina covered the other 25 percent of emergency costs, and Assistant County Administrator Justin Powell urged council members to begin seeking support from the S.C. State House.

“As we get reimbursed, it will go back to unassigned funds,” Powell said.

At this time, data on the extent of the floodwaters is not available, given that much of the county is still at major flood levels. More information on the exact cost of damages from the flood will be available later.

FEMA money is slow to come in. It wasn’t until recently that Horry County was repaid for claims from Hurricane Matthew, which came through about two years ago.

Having this room in the budget was a priority of the council over recent years, Chairman Mark Lazarus said.

In addition, the Horry County Council activated contracts to allow clean-up crews from Florida to start picking up damaged items from the flood. The Florida crews are employed largely due to their expertise in post-storm recovery.

Assistant Administrator Steve Gosnell said the crews will be collecting debris from county-owned roads that were directly affected by flooding. The state will handle debris on state-owned roads, and citizens will be responsible for privately owned roads.

The crews will start from the north and move their way south as waters recede and as homes are cleared.