COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – Gov. Nikki Haley says she didn’t want to wait for the anniversary of the record floods last October to give an update on the state’s recovery efforts, so she called a news conference at the Statehouse.
She said first and foremost she wants everyone to remember that 19 people died in the flooding. At one point about 40,000 people in the state were without water. 36 dams failed. There were more than 1,500 water rescues.
But she said the state is recovering. There were 541 state roads that were closed after the floods, but only 36 are still closed. Two-thirds of those are over private dams that were washed away or are still unstable. The SCDOT says it’s waiting for the dam owners to either repair them or decide they’re not going to, in which case the DOT would repair the road that was there with a bridge.
The state is waiting for $156 million in federal housing aid. Gov. Haley says that’s why she created the One SC Fund, which is raising private donations to help people whose homes were damaged by the floods. “To date, we have raised $1.6 million dollars through that fund. We have 1,100 homes in the process that are either finished or in the process of being rebuilt,” she told reporters.
She says the state’s biggest need is getting that federal money. “You can’t fix a trailer. You can’t fix a mobile home. We’ve got to get them in a new place. And so getting those vulnerable, to make sure we’re meeting their needs, is important. The dams are still an issue, making sure that we’re coming through and dealing with that. And obviously just the roads. We’ve still got a few roads and so we want to see all those come together.”
The state Department of Agriculture also announced that it will start taking applications July 1 for Farm Aid grants for farmers who lost crops in the flood. State lawmakers put $40 million in the state budget to provide the grants. Farmers must have a verifiable loss of crops of at least 40 percent as a result of the floods. They can receive grants covering 20 percent of their crop loss, up to $100,000.
State Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers says, “They cannot purchase new equipment with this application. It is simply designed to give them a lifeline, not a bailout, but a lifeline to help bridge from the flood damage of 2015.”
The department is working with the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service to conduct workshops across the state to help farmers apply for the grants. The first workshop will be on July 1 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Brown’s Bar-B-Que in Kingstree.
For additional workshop details and registration information, visit http://agriculture.sc.gov/sc-farm-aid/educational-sessions/.
For complete application instructions and to access the application PDF form, visit
http://agriculture.sc.gov/SC-farm-aid/. For more information about Farm Aid or to be put in contact with Farm Aid staff, please call Megan Heidkamp with SCDA at (803) 734-2210.