South Carolina ups its relief request for Hurricane Florence

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South Carolina’s congressional delegation will be able to ask for more funds to provide relief following Hurricane Florence, thanks to a move by the state’s governor.

In a letter obtained Saturday by The Associated Press, Gov. Henry McMaster told U.S. Rep. Tom Rice that he was increasing the estimate for community development block grant relief from $108 million to $435 million at Rice’s request.

Thousands of residents along the coasts of North and South Carolina were evacuated as Florence slowly swirled in the Atlantic Ocean in September. As the storm gradually came ashore near the border of the two states, Florence dumped days’ worth of rain on the Carolinas, leaving widespread flooding in which dozens of people were killed.

Officials initially estimated Florence did more than $1 billion in damage to South Carolina, a number based on assessments made while catastrophic flooding was still ongoing in many areas. In a letter last month to the state’s congressional delegation, McMaster said that a new, $607 million damage figure was based on actual damage reports and on-the-ground assessments by federal, state and local officials.

That figure included about $125 million in agricultural damage and $111 million in flood insurance-related claims.

The increased block grant request in McMaster’s letter Saturday brought the total of estimated storm damage to more than $930 million. It also allows the opportunity for more relief for homeowners in a federal flood plain area who have no flood insurance.

McMaster wrote that an appropriation request should note the increase is “in response to the number of homes affected by Hurricane Florence and the substantive flooding that followed.” In his earlier letter to the delegation, McMaster noted that more than 2,000 homes were damaged by hurricane-related flooding in counties in the northeastern portion of South Carolina, including Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Horry, Marion and Marlboro counties.

North Carolina officials have requested $8.8 billion to account for storm damages there.