Surfside Beach: FEMA ‘refused’ to work with town on pier projects

More than 50 feet of the Surfside Beach Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Town of Surfside Beach Administrator, Micki Fellner, said FEMA is refusing to work with the town on some aspects related to the damaged pier.

Fellner said, “FEMA has drawn a line in the sand without reason at $5.6 million” to help fund the approximately $9 million project.

Half of the all-wood pier was damaged in Hurricane Matthew and this summer, council decided it wants to rebuild the pier with concrete.

“We feel that by having a concrete pier, we are really doing a good job by not having to have FEMA come back every year,” said Mayor Bob Childs. “Because we could build a wood pier and next year it could be destroyed so we’re really fighting for to get this concrete pier and I don’t want to throw in the towel yet.”

Fellner said the town wants more money from FEMA and wants the proposal to include hazard mitigation.

“They have refused to collaborate on a 428,” said Fellner about FEMA representatives. “They’ve refused to collaborate at all with us on that. That’s when you have to talk to the politicians and we engaged them immediately.”

Fellner said town staff will be meeting with representatives from Senator Lindsay Graham and Congressman Tom Rice’s office this week.

After Fellner’s report to town council on Tuesday night, Councilman Tim Courtney said the town is losing money without the pier and feels a decision needs to be made quickly. Mayor Bob Childs cut in to explain the town is working as quickly as possible.

“All is not lost yet,” said Mayor Childs. “We’re still working on it. We’re waiting to hear from our Congressman and our Senator and at that point, we can do something.”

You can see the full exchange below:

Fellner said without more money from FEMA, the town may have to go back to another wooden pier.

“And you know what that means, the next Cat 1 storm that comes in, we’re going to be going back to FEMA again,” she said to council.

Childs said he doesn’t want to think of a worst case scenario if more money doesn’t come in.

“The council would have to think long and hard,” he said. “I wouldn’t really, at this point, like to speculate on what we would do. At this point, we’re hoping for the best.”

Childs said he hopes to have more information from FEMA in 90 days.