Conway discusses buying out flood-prone properties with FEMA money

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The City of Conway is considering applying for FEMA funding to buy out dozens of homes and businesses in flood-prone areas.

“The thought of, every time it rains, is the store gonna be flooded today, it’s beyond nerve-wracking. It’s gut wrenching,” says Dale Todd, owner of Rivertown Pharmacy. He is one of 60 home and business owners interested in selling his property.

“We would love to be able to move to higher ground, if you will, to ensure we don’t have flood damage if you will. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen again. It’s just a matter of when,” predicts Todd.

Conway City Planning Director Adam Emrick says the city would seek a grant of almost 8.5 million dollars from FEMA. “We’ve heard from some homeowners that this is the second, third, even fourth time this has happened and they’re at their wits’ end.”

Emrick says after the city buys the properties, it would demolish them and turn the land into open, green space. Emrick says the area around Crabtree Canal often gets hit the hardest by flooding.

“The idea is to not let those floodwaters impact any structures in the future,” says Emrick. “And it gets everyone out of harm’s way. We would never allow building on those sites again.”

Todd says he wouldn’t have to sell, if the city or Horry County properly maintained the waterway.

However, Emrick says the extent of the flooding was too severe. “When you’ve had the kind of flooding we’ve had these last two Octobers, there’s nowhere for it to go. It doesn’t matter how far you make it, how wide you make it. If you’re a quarter of a mile wide in some places, the only way to improve it is to move those homeowners away.”

The owners would only be able to receive 75% of their property’s pre-flood value. If the city decides to go ahead with the application, the process could take up to 18 months.