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Socastee residents in limbo waiting for updates on flood buyout program

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:45 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Enrollment has closed on the long-awaited Socastee flood buyout program, but some homeowners said they still have doubts if they want to go through with it, and leave their homes.

Longtime Rosewood neighbor Joe Reid is one of them. He said he applied for the buyout program after he received a letter from Horry County in the mail, saying he was eligible to apply.

“Right now I’m just waiting in limbo with what they have to offer and what they have to say,” Reid said.

He’s lived in his home since 2001 and still has watermarks from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence on the outside of his home. He flooded again in the spring of 2021, during the latest flood event.

Reid said he’s concerned about not knowing exactly what will come next during the process and how long he’ll have to wait to know how much he’ll get from his home. Horry County said it expects the process to take six to 12 months.

He said just because he applied, doesn’t mean he’s ready to leave.

“It’s not that I’m tired of living here, I just wanna see what they say. If it’s enough to really buy me out. Yeah. And maybe then go somewhere else, off the coast, probably,” he added.

Other homeowners said they wish the county would just raise their homes, rather than only offer a buyout.

The county announced this spring they received $15.6 million in federal grants for flood mitigation projects. Of those grants, $13 million were to be directed toward the flood buyout program in Socastee. Horry County said originally said they had enough money to cover 60 homes. After extending the deadline to get more applications, the county said they received a total of 48 applications from homeowners.

The buyout application cites seven major flooding events in the targeted area since 2015 and asks homeowners to list how much damage each flood did to their home. Some Rosewood and Star Creek Circle neighbors said, they were concerned over how the county was looking at the pre-storm value of their homes, and not the current value, that’s likely higher.

A Horry County spokesperson said evaluations are done on a case-by-case basis, and the maximum any house can get is $250,000. The county added that it uses a different formula for property purchased after Hurricane Florence to evaluate home value.

Still, the county said, this isn’t up to them, and how the homes are appraised is based on federal requirements with the grants. The county also said the firm assisting them with appraising homes should start the appraisal process in a few weeks.

Despite many homeowners trying to move out, many still keep calling Socastee home. Jake Beagle said he closed on his home this week.

“Wasn’t too hesitant to buy it, since it’s raised eight feet, I know this area is notorious for flooding, but it’s raised eight feet off the ground. It’s only had one FEMA claim in the past 10 years,” Beagle said.

For Reid and many others, even if they do go through with the buyout, they’re not sure where else they could afford to move to.

“Everything’s so expensive these days. Where are you going to go? That’s what I’ve been talking to with a few neighbors of mine. Where are we gonna go once we leave here, you know? Where are you gonna go?”

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