County storm damage tops $500,000

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Darlington County homes and businesses suffered more than $500,000 in damage from Hurricane Florence, according to preliminary estimates announced at Darlington County Council’s Oct. 1 meeting.

Darlington County Emergency Management Coordinator Molly Odom

Molly Odom, the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator, updated council members on damage assessments by county staff and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) representatives.

Odom said local assessors first took to the streets Sept. 17 to make sure no occupied homes were isolated by water. Four days later, local teams walked neighborhoods and asked homeowners about damage to their property.

County officials met with FEMA and SCEMD (South Carolina Emergency Management Division) on Sept. 27 to request individual assistance funding, which would allow homeowners to repair wind and water damage to their homes.

State and federal representatives toured the county and saw a sampling of damaged properties the county had identified.

From these properties, FEMA determined 12 homes had been “affected” (with waterline around the crawlspace), 32 homes had “minor damage” (water in the living space), 21 had “major damage” (waterline rose at least 18 inches into the home), and one home was marked “totally destroyed.”

“Those numbers do not reflect our actual damages. That’s just a sampling of what FEMA found for them to make a determination,” said Odom.

The following day, Oct. 2, FEMA approved individual assistance status for Darlington County and Florence County, clearing the way for residents to request reimbursement for home repairs. For more on how to register, call 800-621-3362 or visit online.

Darlington County identified 23 county-owned roads with damage due to washouts. Two of these roads still needed repairs as of Oct. 2, but standing water delayed those efforts. Two state roads were still closed: U.S. 15 at Old Camden Road remained underwater, and the bridge at New Hopewell Road near the church collapsed. There is no estimate when New Hopewell Road will reopen.

Five county properties received damage: the 911 call center, the entryway at the W. Glenn Campbell Detention Center, the garage space at the Darlington Library, and the roof of the old Voter Registration building all suffered leaky roofs or water penetration, and the County Courthouse basement flooded.

Falling trees hit two Darlington County Sheriff’s Office vehicles. One vehicle was occupied at the time.

Odom said that the county’s greatest damage occurred at the Lake Darpo dam. An early estimate says repairing the dam will cost $120,000 for engineering, labor and materials.

Factoring in applicants from City of Hartsville, City of Darlington, Town of Lamar, the Center Theater and Palmetto Rural Fire Department, collective damage countywide is estimated at $489,000. Odom said this figure includes all buildings and equipment at the insurance deductible price of $1,000 per claim. She noted that actual damage is well over $500,000.

In coming weeks, FEMA will evaluate these roads and buildings to determine whether Darlington County qualifies for public assistance funding to repair infrastructure. If so, the county can recoup 75 percent of related insurance deductible costs.
Darlington County has already received a FEMA declaration for emergency protective measures, which will reimburse 75 percent of the county’s estimated $130,000 in emergency personnel and equipment costs.

SCEMD will schedule an applicant briefing later this month, then Darlington County staff will follow up to see if the county qualifies for public assistance funding.

Author: Rachel Howell

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