HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Terri Straka has lived in the Rosewood community for 26 years.
With every year, she said the rainy seasons have gotten worse, resulting in her home being flooded. Like many residents, Straka has grown tired from having to evacuate from the constant floodwaters in her neighborhood.
“So many people are struggling, Straka said. “Unless it’s happened to you and you’re a victim, you don’t understand. It’s not just simply packing up and moving away.”
Since 2018, Straka said she’s been pushing for state leaders to create a grant for families in Socastee who are continuing to live their life walking through floodwaters.
On Tuesday a major announcement was made that brought her tears of joy.
“I’m happy that something right is happening for the people,” Straka said.
Horry County will receive nearly $15.6 million in federal grants for flood mitigation activities, with over $13 million of it dedicated to relocating repeat flood victim in the Socastee community, South Carolina State Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford and Horry County Councilman Cam Crawford announced Tuesday.
In an interview with WMBF News, Councilman Cam Crawford explained the importance of having a buyout option for Socastee residents.
“It’s a difficult thing to endure, I’ve been through it myself,” the councilman said. “My goal through this was to provide them some relief, a way out. A buyout provides significant relief because there’s less amount of time involved. I’m not saying all of Horry County but for residents in Socastee, buyouts are a good option. When it’s finalized it will certainly help move people out of a very difficult situation.”
Additionally, more than $2.4 million will be allocated for infrastructure projects to reduce future flood risk in the Cowford Swamp area, officials announced.
“This relocation program is a key component to address flooding in the Socastee community and is a practical solution that will provide relief to those living in vulnerable flood areas,” Rep. Ammons Crawford said.
The buyout program is voluntary and will pay for the cost of purchasing, demolishing, and stabilizing lots for over 60 flood-prone homes along the Intracoastal Waterway in Socastee.
Horry County will host a virtual seminar at 3 p.m. on March 23 to update affected residents to be followed by several intake meetings in the designated area, according to information from the county.
Those who completed the interest form in 2020 will be contacted by the county to explain the process. Even those who did not fill out the interest form last year are eligible to begin the intake process, assuming they meet the criteria, according to Rep. Ammon Crawford’s Facebook post.
Homes outside the county’s targeted area can apply directly to the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office, now a division of the newly formed Office of Resiliency. Click here for more information.
Horry County’s award comes from the first round of Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds the state received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, a press release stated. Horry County will administer the projects once the grant agreement is finalized with the state.
“SCDRO is excited to partner with Horry County to provide much-needed relief from the repetitive flooding issues facing the county,” Benjamin Duncan, director of the SCDRO, said in a statement.
Straka said things are looking up for Rosewood. She just hopes the grant funds will be enough to help more families move to safer grounds.
“We need to get this money quicker to the people so we can get them out of harms way,” Straka said. “There’s needs to be more implemented projects. This has been the hardest part getting the grants written out, if we can keep that momentum going. There’s many more people that need help.”
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