MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The major spending bill that passed the House and Senate Friday afternoon could bring millions of dollars in federal funding to the Grand Strand for beach renourishment.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President, Brad Dean, said that while October's historic flooding left behind severe damage to our roads, bridges, homes and businesses, it also damaged South Carolina's beaches.
"There's a normal process to go through for all of those situations except for beach renourishment. We were left without a pathway for our compromised beach infrastructure," Dean said. Left without a pathway, until now, Dean said.
Congressman Tom Rice proposed changes to the energy and water development appropriations bill. This bill covers three parts: Flood and Storm Damage Reduction, Flood Control, and Shore Protection. In total, the bill calls for more than $350 million in federal funding.
"Now what we have to do, after the bill is passed by House and Senate and signed by president Obama, is compete for those funds, so we can get our beaches renourished sooner rather than later," Dean explained.
Dean says our local governments are banding together to do just that: prove the need.
"Certain areas of our beaches could become so narrow, that they really aren't accommodating to our visitors. When you think about the millions of people that come to the Grand Strand, more than 17 million each year, we may not have stretches of beaches to accommodate that, and that could lead visitors to go elsewhere, and that not only hurts our tourism-oriented businesses and our tourism industry, it impacts our entire state economy," Dean explained.
Dean says the problem has the potential of impacting our state economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
"That also reduces tax streams that go to education, law enforcement and other important public services," Dean said.
With a wet winter season predicted, Dean believes now is the time to act.
"When we you look at the extended forecast and what we could be facing over the next few months. Our beaches could be facing a serious need for repair even before the next summer season and that's very concerning for the tourism industry," he added.