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McMaster to sign bill establishing new office for chief resiliency officer on flooding

Updated: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:29 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A new bill aimed at helping tackle issues related to flooding is sitting on Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk after passing in the South Carolina State Senate.

The bill, S. 259, was first introduced back in 2018. State Senator Stephen Goldfinch, a Republican serving the Murrells Inlet area, has pushed for the bill to become law.

“We owe it to ourselves and the people who live there to return it back to a flood zone, a wetland, so that water has somewhere to go instead of in mine or your yard,” Goldfinch said.

The new state office would coordinate issues and projects relating to flooding across the state, from the river flooding inland to coastal flooding at the shore.

It also puts in place a chief resiliency officer to head up the office, who is appointed by the governor.

Goldfinch says at this point, flooding has become so widespread and frequent. Therefore, the state government needed to take this step.

“It becomes very complex, very quick. And the easiest way to solve that is instead of some homeowners in unincorporated Horry County not getting help where as some in incorporated Horry County do get help or vice versa, it was just better to do it statewide," he added.

Goldfinch says McMaster will officially sign the bill soon.

Once signed, it won’t go into effect until next year, since the state government held off on funding the new office in 2020 due to COVID-19 budget constraints.

But once in effect, Goldfinch says this will help better study flooding in different areas across the state, and even reclassify flood zones. He said this isn’t something that would bail out builders and homeowners purposefully moving into flood prone areas, but help those who are stuck seeing repeated flooding.

But still, some flooding activists are cautious.

Flood advocate with Higher Ground Harriet Festing works closely with Rosewood Strong. She says she’s worried whoever is picked to lead the office could have developers issues in mind, rather than flood victims.

“That advisory committee cannot have anyone who is a developer, an architect, an engineer, a legal firm, who works with them," Festing said.

Festing also says she thinks this could be a quick fix to look like state lawmakers have made progress on the issue.

But for flood victims, Goldfinch says state action is much needed.

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