Home Recovery South Carolina Floods: Aftermath and Recovery

South Carolina Floods: Aftermath and Recovery

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Thanksgiving 2015 marked two months since historic rainfall over South Carolina caused widespread flooding and damage across the state.

The worst flooding in South Carolina history?

Flooding began after storms from the weekend of October 3, 2015 brought up to two feet of rain to various parts of the region. At least nineteen people died in South Carolina and at least 540 roads and bridges were closed due to the unprecedented rains.

Call it a 500-year flood

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said that storms resulted in what can be termed a 500-year flood. More specifically, the USGS said that the rainfall itself was a 1000-year rainstorm, with 500-year flood consequences.

Storm total rainfall graphic from the record-breaking event

FEMA deadline extension

FEMA recently extended South Carolina's disaster assistance application deadline, giving state residents until January 3, 2016 to register for assistance. Governor Nikki Haley requested the extra 30 days.

Economic impact: 12 billion

Economists placed an overall cost of $12 billion on the floods. This estimated cost brings the magnitude of these storms on par with Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

According to The State, the total bill for flood damage is around $1.2 billion so far:

  • $114 million from South Carolina taxpayers for recovery
  • $181 million in insurance claims to private companies
  • $500 million from the federal government for road repair
  • $375 million in direct damage to agriculture

Agriculture

NPR recently detailed how South Carolina farmers are now burdened with severe crop losses in the aftermath of the storms and resulting floods. According to the report, farming accounts for 10 percent of South Carolina jobs, and many farmers will have the worst crop losses ever as a result of the floods.

A dry summer damaged part of the corn crop, and then the floods wiped out peanuts, cotton and various other crops typically harvested in the fall. Some farms were literally turned into ponds.

Bridges and Roads

As of December 1, 2015, fewer than 70 bridges and roads remain closed and 26 roads/bridges may not be able to be fixed because they run over damaged dams.

Overall, repairs to South Carolina roads are ahead of schedule. The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) reopened 136 road closures by November 26, which was 12 more than the 124 it had originally estimated by that date.

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Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.