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Message From The Mayor: September 2020

Pat O’Neil

Dear Island Neighbors,

Yawwnn … nothing to see here folks. Keep moving unless you care about such minor issues as citizen input to Council, possible paid parking, hurricanes or flood insurance rates.


As mentioned last month, we continue to work on ways to expand the opportunity for public input to Council in our Zoom meetings during these COVID times.

For Council’s regular monthly meetings, Island residents may sign up to address Council in real time by following the instructions posted with the agenda for that meeting. It requires sending an email prior to the meeting. Please note that anyone commenting is restricted to two minutes of talk time, as was always the case. Also, as was the case with our in-person meetings, if you pose questions to Council, we are not able to respond during public comments time. This is an opportunity to speak to Council, but we are unable to engage in a dialogue during this part of our meeting.

Another way for residents and nonresidents to send their message to us is via email to

Messages sent to that address will be forwarded to all of Council, but only if you so request. If you also wish your message to be included in the record of the next Council meeting, please state that explicitly at the beginning of your email.


 You are no doubt aware that a policy of requiring visitors to pay to park in the street rights of way has been considered by all our local beach communities, including Sullivan’s Island. The matter was investigated and discussed at length at our regular Council meeting on Sept.15. You can view a very detailed and thorough presentation by Council Member Tim Reese and subsequent Council discussion at

You can advance the video of that meeting to around 1:32:00 for the beginning of the presentation. It is very thorough, and the comments and action by Council begin around 2:12:00.

This is an issue that is clearly important for all of us on the island and for the greater community of which we are a part. Please watch our meeting and discussion, and let us know what you think. See the above instructions for sending us your input.

You needn’t feel like you have to simply favor or oppose: Let us know what you see as the pros and cons of various ways such a plan might be implemented.


Amazingly, as of last week, we had already run out of actual people names for tropical storms and hurricanes. Going forward, it’s all Greek (alphabet) to us.

This is still traditionally a very busy part of the hurricane season for us here.

If you don’t already have a personal hurricane plan in place for you and your family, get one – now!

And be prepared to use it. Please pay attention to broadcast messages from the National Hurricane Center, the local weather media and Town Hall for any storm conditions that may threaten the Island. 

If you don’t already receive the extremely informative emails from Town Administrator Andy Benke during times of special circumstances, please get added to his list by emailing abenke@ You should also follow the town on Facebook (@TownofSI) and Twitter (@TownofSI).

Don’t let your guard down. Remember, Hugo hit us around midnight Sept. 22/23. Sandy hit New York and New Jersey on Oct. 29. There is still plenty of time for meteorological mischief.

Let’s just hope this year we don’t see Hurricane Omega!


Last week we were delighted to receive a letter from the federal government. Yes, you read that right – good news from the feds.

William Lesser, who is coordinator of the Community Rating System for the FEMA flood insurance program, wrote, in part:

“I am pleased to inform you that the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has determined that the Town of Sullivan’s Island will retain its current rating as a Class 5 in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS). The floodplain management activities implemented by your community qualify it for a 25 percent discount on flood insurance premiums for NFIP policies issued or renewed in Special Flood Hazard Areas on or after October 1, 2020. This savings is a tangible result of the flood mitigation activities your community implements to protect lives and reduce property damage.”

 The rating system is based on a number of proactive steps taken by the community. As stated, our rating continues to offer a cost savings for flood insurance policyholders across the Island. Note that we currently have the 25% discount but could have lost it had we not qualified to have our Class 5 rating renewed. As they supposedly said on Broadway, you’re only as good as your last reviews. This rating is the result of consistent hard and expert work by our flood plain manager – and building official – Randy Robinson. Great job, Randy!

To remind you, as noted in my last column, soon we will also be working under new FEMA flood maps that determine the elevations required of buildings on the island. Many properties on the island will now require less elevation than previously. For more info, please go to

And regarding both the CRS rating class and its effect on your premiums and the changes in the zones designated by the new flood maps, you should definitely check with your agent or insurance provider to verify that you are getting the best rate possible for our CRS rating class and your new flood zone. 

See you around the Island!

Pat O’Neil,

Mayor, Sullivan’s Island



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