By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
A grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to help the town of Sullivan’s Island put together a plan to alleviate some of the island’s flooding issues.
Town Administrator Andy Benke told Council members at their March 16 meeting that the town has applied for a $275,000 BRIC – Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities – grant from FEMA.
“We think we should be able to map out and prioritize the problem areas we know exist,” Benke said. “As grants become available, we can apply to fix the Department of Transportation’s infrastructure.”
Council members discussed other flooding issues at the meeting. For example, the town received a $1.5 million grant from FEMA “four or five years ago,” according to Benke, funds that have not yet been used to alleviate problems at Station 18. Benke explained that a key element in reducing the cost of the project was an easement agreed to by a property owner in the area. However, the property owner changed his mind, potentially raising the cost of the project to between $2.7 million and $2.8 million because the roadway will have to be torn up and then replaced. Benke said the town would have to request an extension from FEMA to keep from losing the $1.5-million grant.
“We don’t want to leave this money on the table,” Councilman Bachman Smith commented.
“We need to focus on stormwater management in the upcoming budget,” said Councilman Tim Reese. “There are other locations as well. We don’t own them, and the state has a limited budget. We’ve got to figure out a way to start setting up some allocation for that.”
“FEMA paying for a majority through a community resilience program is the best way to approach this. We put 12 Band-Aids on something and spend a whole lot of money, and maybe we don’t end up fixing the root issue,” Councilman Greg Hammond added.
Benke also reported on a drainage problem on Raven Drive. He said Susan Middaugh had asked if the town had funds to take care of the issue.
“It’s complicated. I don’t know that there’s any easy fix to that problem. There’s no slope to make the water run off,” Benke said.