The sheer destruction caused by excessive rainfall and flooding in South Carolina this past October cost the S.C. National Guard and the Emergency Management Division nearly $40 million, according to state leaders at a House budget meeting. The state will be responsible for about 25% of the hefty price tag with the federal government shelling out the other 75%.
Gov. Nikki Haley gave approval on the transfer of $9.3 million from South Carolina’s unclaimed property account to pay for the National Guard’s services. This however, is only one aspect of the flooding expenses as flood costs are still being tallied by various state departments. The state Transportation Department will release its figures near Thanksgiving. The state had closed 541 bridges and roads during the peak of the catastrophic flooding. In addition, state Department of Administration is still calculating its expenses which could take several additional weeks. Administrative expenses include additional emergency staffing during and after the flooding.
State agencies response efforts during the flooding were applauded by lawmakers though some expressed concerns. Joe Neal, D-Richland believed that response time to rural areas needed to be faster though many of the delays were caused by washed out and buckling roadways.
Major General Robert E. Livingston, Head of the Military Department of the state of South Carolina said that the National Guard recommended residents to be ready to be on their own for the first 72 hours following a disaster, allowing adequate time for rescue teams to arrive. “We weren’t there instantly, (but) we were there faster than we would have been 20 years ago,” stated Livingston. Advances in technology, specifically communication, were cited in the vastly improved response time.
While the rebuilding costs will be quite significant in the state, Brian White, R-Anderson believes this can be an opportunity to enhance the state’s transportation infrastructure. “Let’s rebuild South Carolina better,” he said.