2017-10-13 / Society

Remembering the flood of 2015

Restoring the city
By Mayor Steve Benjamin

Two years have passed quickly, but we remember October 4, 2015, vividly. Since then, we have together made significant progress in not only aiding in rebuilding our homes but also restoring our city’s infrastructure.

Below are a few updates regarding flood recovery.

• The city has accomplished repairs to most of the flood-damaged infrastructure, completing repair work at more than 60 individual sites. Work is planned or underway at eight remaining sites and will be completed within six months.

• Repairs to the Columbia Canal are moving forward pending negotiations with FEMA over the type of permanent repairs and amount of repairs.

• The city has been reimbursed approximately $6.3 million for work on storm-related repairs, and will continue to seek further reimbursements from FEMA for the remaining repairs.

• The city has applications for Hazard Mitigation Grant Assistance Program ( HMGP) for acquisition of 32 residential properties and one commercial property. The applications are near completion of review; however, all HMGP funding is on hold due to the impacts of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. We are optimistic they will return to active status before the end of the calendar year.

Mayor Steve Benjamin Mayor Steve Benjamin • The city of Columbia CDBG Disaster Recovery Program has made great strides in the last 12 months in developing and launching programs that meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable residents who suffered damages to their homes as a result of the October 2015 Flood. The ci ty’s Act ion Plan was approved by HUD on January 24, 2017.

• The Disaster Recovery team held ten public meetings between May 31 and August 2. Today, case managers have processed 316 applicants, 235 have passed a preliminary eligibility review, approximately 75 percent. These homeowners, many of whom are elderly or disabled, are scheduling times with our inspector/estimators for a realtime damage assessment that will be the foundation for construct ion bids. Early next month, we will begin environmental reviews of each property, and expect to begin construct ion before the end of the year.

• Finally, HUD awarded the City of Columbia an additional $6,166,000 in CDBG Disaster Recovery Funds August 7. The proposed Act ion Plan program modifications and additions, including new infrastructure and multifamily housing activities, can be reviewed on the DR website; public comments are encouraged.

For more information, visit the City's website dr.columbiasc.gov

We know there is still work to be done, but as a community, we are moving forward and dedicated to productive collaboration to making it happen.

We’ve been working with our fellow leaders in Houston, Southeast Texas, Baton Rouge, South Florida, and Puerto Rico providing technical assistance. Though the flooding our city experienced was devastating, the lessons we learned from it have been truly valuable, and we’ve been able to share that insight with our peers.

We are still #ColumbiaStrong.

God bless.

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