Wednesday, October 12, 2016

City officials assess damages following Hurricane Matthew

Our enemy, the trees

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 12:39 PM

click to enlarge White Point Garden following massive flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • White Point Garden following massive flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew
Not a single injury or death as a result of Hurricane Matthew was reported in the city of Charleston, according to Mayor John Tecklenburg. Recovery efforts have been largely successful throughout the city following the storm that left hundreds of local streets impassable and thousands without power.

“The city’s focus right now is getting back to normal, and we’ve made a lot of really good progress on that. We’ve gone through the preparation and response phase. Now we’re into the recovery phase,” said Charleston’s Emergency Management Director Mark Wilbert.

Prior to the storm’s arrival in the Lowcountry, the city of Charleston distributed 15,500 sandbags. Hurricane Matthew left 240 city streets closed or impassable. As of Tuesday evening, those roadways were once again passable. With king tides expected later this week, local agencies are preparing for the possibility of additional flooding on vulnerable roadways.

Hurricane Matthew and the massive power outages that came in its wake left more than 100 traffic signals non-operational in the city of Charleston. By Tuesday, only 10 were said to still be malfunctioning, according to Wilbert. One of those signals still lacked electricity, four require major repairs, and five had only minor issues.

More than 10,000 people in the city remained without power Tuesday — 7,500 SCE&G customers and 2,700 Berkeley Electric Cooperative customers. Fallen and broken trees posed a major threat around the city, due to the powerful winds and major flooding brought on by Matthew. Almost 300 reports of fallen trees and related issues were called in to city agencies. More than 80 fallen trees and limbs have been removed from city right-of-ways.

“President [Barack] Obama has declared a major disaster declaration for the tri-county area, but I want to give you the facts on that. ... That’s for public assistance, so that will take care of public projects and public funding, “said Wilbert. “The counties have not yet met the criteria for individual assistance, which is the money that goes to homeowners. That’s strictly because the timeline hasn’t reached that point yet. We haven’t even submitted our damage assessments yet.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford said Tuesday that he is confident that the damage faced by Lowcountry residents will qualify many local counties for additional government assistance to aid in recovering from the storm, but acknowledged that the federal application process can be lengthy.

“You have to hit certain thresholds in overall aggregate damage. I believe that we will hit that in Charleston County,” said Sanford. “I believe we will hit that in Beaufort and Dorchester counties. Not as sure about Berkeley County, but one the thresholds have been hit, it opens up certain possibilities in terms of individual assistance.”

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