Conway receives over $2 million for stormwater project

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 5:51 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF)-- The city of Conway is taking a big step in its flood mitigation efforts with a project called the Chestnut Bay Resilience Project.

The stormwater and park project is made possible through a $2.17 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“You can’t stop (flooding) from happening, it’s what happens once the water comes,” said Conway Mayor Barbara Blain Bellamy.

This project has been five years in the making. After Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, Bellamy said the city needed a change.

“What we determined is our greatest priority and our greatest challenge is to mitigate flooding,” the mayor said.

The project will consist of a Carolina Bay-- natural wetlands capable of storing stormwater and could be the first man-made one in the world. The project is aimed at helping residents in the Sherwood neighborhood.

“This project should have been done awhile ago, to be honest with you,” said April O’Leary, who lives in the Sherwood area, and is also the founder of Horry County Rising. “My little family flooded in ‘18, and that displaced us for close to a year, and we are not unique.”

O’Leary said there are around 500 Conway residents that have been impacted by flooding, and the city has knocked down some houses entirely.

“Right across the street from my house, we’ve lost homes; a couple houses down, there’s no home there,” said O’Leary.

Trinity United Methodist Church has also taken quite a hit, requiring major renovations because of flooding.

“The church has put millions of dollars into making it as resilient from flooding as possible,” said Mayor Bellamy.

Now, residents and city officials alike are hopeful this will get better, and that this is the start of a pattern.

“We need to do it on a scale and scope that we don’t have the funds to do, but this is the type of project that we would want to see replicate throughout the county,” said O’Leary.