Several groups preserve land to help mitigate Conway flooding

Updated: May. 24, 2019 at 3:20 PM EDT
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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – A portion of land is now preserved for flood mitigation after grants were obtained through a partnership between the city of Conway, the Open Space Institute and others.

Conway City Administrator Adam Emrick said after a decade, the partnership finally secured the grant money needed to preserve Westmoreland Preserve.

“This is property that is in flood areas that we know are sensitive, that we know need to be protected, that we know we should not allow development to happen in,” said Emrick.

The land is between Lake Busbee, U.S. 501 and the Cox Ferry Recreational Area. The city and Horry County have been collaborating with all groups involved for a decade now to secure the flood plain for mitigation, protection and recreation, according to Maria Whitehead, Open Space Institute’s senior project manager.

This, though, is just one small part of the bigger picture. Emrick said the city hopes to one day connect the downtown area to Coastal Carolina University through bike and pedestrian paths.

“It’s always been a dream of the city to be able to put some sort of pedestrian trail or bike trail from downtown Conway to CCU so that the students and residents can get back and forth without having to cross any major roads,” said Emrick.

In addition to the Open Space Institute and the city, the Winyah Rivers Alliance and Westmoreland Landowners were also involved in making the conservation possible.

Whitehead said they have plans for future collaboration to protect the flood plain forest.

About $4.2 million in cumulative damage has occurred to property in the city of Conway as a result of flooding in 2015 and 2016, and from Hurricane Florence in 2018, according to the Open Space Institute.

Emrick said the Florence recovery is going well but there are a lot of hurdles to clear on the road to rebuilding. Still, they’re very close.

Once city leaders have worked out the details with FEMA, they’ll be able to start putting together plans to rebuild, according to Emrick.

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