How Much Will Record Flooding Cost South Carolina?



Flood Damaged HomeOn Tuesday, October 6, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke with reporters in the midst of ongoing recovery efforts after record rainfall flooded the American southeast this weekend.

“God smiled on South Carolina because the sun is out,” Gov. Haley said. “That is a good sign, but I will tell you that for us, we still have to be cautious. The next 36 to 48 hours are going to be a time that we need to continue to be careful.”

The flooding in North and South Carolina has been described by some meteorologists as a 1,000-year rainfall event, a flood of biblical proportions for the region. More than two feet of rain deluged the state, and to make matters worse, 10 dams have burst in South Carolina since Saturday. More than 800 people have moved into shelters, highways remain closed, and emergency responders have executed 175 water rescues so far. Worst of all, at least 14 people lost their lives in the flooding.

Now that the sun is shining over the Carolinas again, officials have begun the long, complicated process of assessing the damage. At the Tuesday press conference, Haley avoided giving a numeric estimate of the total damages, instead calling the amount of destruction “disturbing.”

“It’s hard to look at the loss we’re going to have,” Haley said. “This could be any amount of dollars.”

Some experts say that South Carolina could see billions of dollars in damage. But despite the record rain, South Carolina has seen its share of hurricanes and flooding in the past, and many locals are hopeful about the coming months. In an economic forecast published in The Post and Courier on Sunday, Charleston writer Warren L. Wise predicted a rosy future for the region’s commercial real estate, one indicator of overall economic vitality. In what was perhaps a poor choice of words, Wise wrote, “the Charleston region’s commercial real estate market professionals see even sunnier days ahead.”

Nationwide, commercial real estate has been strong this year, with investment sales for commercial properties rising 11% in the first quarter of 2015. In South Carolina, a recent influx of manufacturing jobs and overall population growth have been driving even larger gains in the sector.

So despite the massive economic and human cost of the recent flooding, local experts are confident the “lowcountry” will recover. For now, state officials are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make damage assessments. Still, a full picture of the total damage won’t become clear until the floodwaters finally recede for good.

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