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The flood: County prepares for a deluge of mosquitoes

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Prepare for the next wave of trouble following last weekend’s flooding: mosquitoes.

Ray Funnye, Georgetown County public works director, said mosquito control employees and contractors are preparing to begin aerial application of insecticide to get ahead of the expected swarm. “We try always to stay in front,” Funnye said. Residents of the Waccamaw Neck can expect to see mosquito planes soon along with the Santee community and Georgetown. “Those areas have always been problematic,” Funnye said. There’s money left in the budget for mosquito control after a “pretty standard year.”

To request mosquito control service in Georgetown County, call 843-545-3615. Residents may also dial that number to request notification before mosquito spraying takes place.

The drainage project along the new median on Highway 17 in Pawleys Island worked as designed, Funnye said.

Stormwater from Hagley overflowed Kings River Road near Heritage Plantation despite considerable flood control work done there. Funnye said people have to accept some flooding during unusual circumstances because it’s not possible to design systems for every event.

“We design for a 25-year storm,” he said. “The weir at Kings River Road is designed for a 100-year storm. Preliminary information we have says this was a 1,000-year storm. If we were to invest more dollars to design everything for a 1000-year storm, we wouldn’t get anything done.”

The weekend’s storm damaged 160 county roads, according to reports from Georgetown County Public Services Department. The assessment of county-maintained roads was about 90 percent complete Wednesday, and 189 areas needing repair were reported on 160 roads. Problems include washouts, missing materials on slag roads, potholes, drainage problems and other issues.

The first repairs will be to central thoroughfares and roads where damage has left residents isolated. Completion of all repairs may take months, even with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers and potentially other agencies, county officials said.

Disaster relief

Residents of Georgetown County affected by flooding may qualify to receive federal disaster aid made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Aid may include financial assistance or direct services for those who encounter necessary expenses or have serious needs. Types of assistance available include:

• Housing assistance — Funds may be provided to help get individuals into a safe and sanitary living environment. This program is not intended to return a property to its pre-disaster condition, and does not provide funds to cover losses that are covered by insurance. It can provide funds for temporary housing, home repairs, or (in cases where a home is destroyed beyond repair) to contribute to housing replacement.

• Other needs assistance — Grants may be provided for uninsured, disaster-related, necessary expenses and serious needs that cannot be met through other means. Flood insurance may be required on insurable items in some cases. Covered items may include: medical and dental expenses; funeral and burial costs; repair, cleaning or replacement of personal items; disaster cleanup items; and vehicle repair.

Funds for eligible expenses under all programs are limited to $33,000 per household, even when this amount does not fully cover all disaster-related costs. Applicants are responsible for providing all documentation necessary for FEMA to evaluate eligibility. If applicants have insurance, any assistance provided by FEMA should be considered an advance and must be repaid upon receipt of an insurance settlement payment.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rice’s staff will be at the Georgetown County Library today from 9 to 11 a.m. to assist constituents with flood-related needs. Rice’s staff will be available to provide information and answer questions regarding FEMA Disaster Declaration, how to apply for FEMA and SBA funding, types of resources available from FEMA and SBA disaster programs, and other resources for individuals and businesses following the flood.

The district staff will also be available to assist in replacing Social Security cards, passports, and other federal documents that may have been damaged or lost in the flooding. Those unable to attend can call or stop by Rice’s district offices. Call 843-445-6459 for more information.

All financial assistance provided by FEMA should be used as specified in writing, or the recipient may become ineligible for additional assistance. Residents may apply online at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

Aid for victims

There are two ways to assist flood victims, according to Lucy Woodhouse, CEO of Black River United Way

The American Red Cross is in desperate need of volunteers for the four shelters that are located at the Beck Recreation Center in Georgetown and in Kingstree High School, Hemingway High School, and the Williamsburg County Recreation Center.

People willing to be shelter volunteers should call 843-477-0020. They will have a background check and other pertinent documentation before being allowed work at the shelters, but the Red Cross will expedite this process in order to get volunteers into the shelters as soon as possible.

Woodhouse asked volunteers to register through the Disaster Response Module. “This will be really important when South Carolina applies for the state FEMA reimbursement,” she said. “We have access to this site to get volunteers connected to work as soon as needs are prioritized.”

Go to getconnected.uwasc.org.

Financial donations may be made through the United Way of the Midlands. All funds designated to specific counties and ZIP codes will be distributed to the local communities through the United Way to address priorities identified by the Emergency Operation Centers.

Make donations for recovery in Georgetown and Williamsburg counties through uwmidlands.wufoo.com.

Disaster scams

People claiming to be S.C. National Guardsmen have reportedly been going door to door in some areas of the county asking residents to voluntarily evacuate.

S.C. National Guard representatives stationed in the county Emergency Operations Center say this was not authorized by the National Guard at any location in Georgetown County. They warn this could be a scam.

In disasters in other areas there have been cases of people posing as authorities asking people to leave their homes, then they go in and pillage things from the home after it is empty. If someone representing themselves as a guardsman or other authority asks a resident to leave their home, call the Georgetown County Emergency Operations Center, 843-545-3273, to confirm whether the action is legitimate.

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