Society Hill moves forward with Hazard Mitigation Plan

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Society Hill is one step closer to being prepared for a disaster after making plans to adopt a resolution for a hazard mitigation strategy.

Molly Odom, Emergency Management Coordinator for the Darlington County Emergency Services, spoke to council about the plan during the Jan. 9 town council meeting.

“In 2002 the Disaster Mitigation Act was passed by the federal government, which is where a lot of FEMA money comes from for recovery from a disaster and a couple of great programs such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program or the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, which are grants to help you become more resilient to further damage from other disasters,” Odom said. “Darlington County developed the first Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2005 and that was approved by FEMA in 2007. That plan was written by Pee Dee COG (Council of Governments) and when they developed it they did it for the county as well as the four municipalities in the county. In 2012 when they did a revised plan, it is renewed every five years, the planning team … decided that instead of having a generic plan like what Pee Dee COG had done they were going to make one that was more specific to the disasters that come in to Darlington County based on historical data and the experience of those who were on the planning team.”
Representatives of the four Darlington County municipalities, Lamar, Hartsville, Darlington and Society Hill, were invited to participate, as were other entities such as the Darlington County School District.

“At the time, Society Hill selected not to participate so when the 2012 plan was done FEMA left Society Hill out as a Sanctioned City, meaning that you’re not eligible for those grants and if there was a disaster, such as Hurricane Matthew, any expenses the city had or damage they received they would not be able to turn that in for reimbursement,” Odom said.

In Aug. 2016, Society Hill made the decision to again participate and a plan was created for the town. It was submitted to the state and is awaiting approval from FEMA, at which point Society Hill would again be eligible for FEMA grants. A public hearing must be held before council can approve the plan. One will be held 30 minutes before the February council meeting. A digital copy of the plan is available at branches of the Darlington County Library System and at Society Hill Town Hall. Any and all suggestions from town citizens are welcome.

Also during the meeting, Mayor Tommy Bradshaw, councilwoman Carolyn Oliver and newly elected councilwoman Tammy Gandy were sworn in to office by Probate Judge Todd Hardee. Their oath of office comes from the South Carolina Constitution, Article III, Section 26:

“I do solemnly swear that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been elected and that I will to the best of my ability, discharge the duties thereof, and preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States. So help me God.”

Before administering the oath, Hardee spoke a few words about the importance of public service.

“Public service is a wonderful thing to be a part of,” Hardee said. “Not only on (their) side of the desk up there but also on this side out here. These folks that you have elected will come in here once a month and they’ll make decisions. Sometimes they’re decisions you like and sometimes its decisions you don’t like. Sometimes they are decisions they like and they’ll also make some that they don’t like to do. In public service it is a constant battle between what is good for the people and what’s right. You have a group of people up here who, there is no doubt in my mind, that are going to do the right thing for you and represent you well. And Society Hill will be perpetuated for years to come when your children and your grandchildren are all here. Public service is admirable and I commend you for taking time out of your life to do that.”

Longtime councilwoman Deborah Harrell was elected Mayor Pro Tempore by her fellow councilpeople.

The next meeting of the Society Hill Town Council will be held Feb. 13. All monthly meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall of Society Hill, 280 South Main Street.

Author: Duane Childers

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