Rep. Rice checks on repairs to Marion County homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew

Rep. Rice checks on repairs to Marion County homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew

MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Congressman Tom Rice is following the recovery from Hurricane Matthew that is still happening one year later.

On Thursday, he visited homes in Marion County, where a large portion of the government funding is going.

After Hurricane Matthew, Rice went to Washington to secure funding to help people recover in Horry and Marion counties. The first round of around $60 million was approved back in January. There is a second appropriation that could bring that number up to $95 million.

Rice's staff said the second round of money was amended in August and is going through public comment and then to the Housing Urban Development in Washington to hopefully pass in November.

"That is a lot of money and the state submitted a plan to the federal government to distribute and oversee the construction to make sure the money is put to good use," Rice said.

The recovery process is very slow, according to Rice, but he said he will remain positive. The goal of his visit was to check on the progress of Marion County homes that were either totally torn down and rebuilt, or repaired.

The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office is still working on projects from the October 2015 flooding and has completed 614 homes, according to Rick Smarr, an inspector with SCDRO.

The eligibility process for damaged homes from Hurricane Matthew is almost complete.

"Marion County has got the most in the state and they are getting the focus right now because, obviously, we want to hit the ones that were the most vulnerable and need assistance getting back in their homes," Smarr said.

The SCDRO funded a $58,000 project in Nichols where a home was torn down and totally rebuilt. Officials said the homeowner will be able to move back in within the week. It is one project Rice saw.

"I feel very uplifted after in speaking with these gentleman who are doing this work about their concern for the families, about their concern for quality and about their concern for making sure the limited money that we have is being spent in the most wise way," Rice said.

Rice added there will be someone from his office in Marion County regularly to monitor the progress and ease the process for the contractors and homeowners.

Those still in need of recovery funding can apply until Nov. 10. Rice said those who are interested in applying can call (202) 225-9895 during his office hours, or visit his website to apply.

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