Coronavirus and the state’s budget may be the top priorities in the lead-up to a September mini-legislative session, but flooding also isn’t going away and lawmakers have a chance to do something about it, Murrells Inlet Republican Sen. Stephen Goldfinch said last week. 

“Everybody is lobbying for their own little pet project to happen in September. Flooding should absolutely be at the top of the list. It is a huge economic problem in South Carolina,” he said.

South Carolina watched from a thousand miles away last week as a Category 4 hurricane came ashore in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Laura was expected to have an “unsurvivable” 20-foot storm surge in Cameron Parish, Louisiana — although after the storm swept through, some say that surge swelled to a more modest, but still devastating 9 feet and brought waters 40 miles inland. 

Goldfinch

Storm surge from a Category 4 storm would swamp as far inland as St. Stephen, Conway, Moncks Corner, Walterboro and across Interstate 95 in Jasper County — all about 40 miles inland, according to a NOAA interactive map

Goldfinch is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 259, which seeks to create a revolving fund and a governing body to help low-lying property owners get low-interest buyout loans from the bank. 

The bill passed the Senate 44-1 on March 19 and was referred to the House Ways and Means committee. Committee Chair Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, did not respond to a request to comment on the bill and whether it could get a vote on the House floor when the body meets Sept. 15.

In a similar vein, in 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development began offering $16 billion for “large-scale migration or relocation” and other steps to deal with flooding. North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas have since expressed interest in using  that money to fund buyouts, the purchasing and demolishing of homes exposed to storms, among other things, according to The New York Times.