South Carolina is creating resilience office to help residents move from frequently-flooded places and restore them to nature

The South Carolina General Assembly has passed the Disaster Relief and Resilience Act, S.259. Among other things, S.259 establishes a statewide Resilience Revolving Loan Fund program to facilitate the voluntary buyout of repetitively flooded properties thereby allowing homeowners to relocate while returning those flooded properties back to a natural state.

Helping citizens move out of the floodplain not only provides a better, safer future for these families, but it also reduces state and local recovery spending and allows the land to be restored and used for flood mitigation in ways that buffer against storm damage, retain and clean storm water, and act as nature’s first line of defense for upland communities.

Green heron in South Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Audubon SC / Peggy Coleman.

The Disaster Relief and Resilience Act is an example of the kind of commonsense, forward-thinking policy making that South Carolinians deserve, and the legislation serves as a national model for effective resilience and disaster planning. The bill’s focus on nature-based solutions promises the dual benefits of protecting vulnerable communities and generating economic development, while providing vital habitat for birds and other wildlife,” said Audubon South Carolina Policy Director Julia Dietz.

We thank the members in both legislative chambers and are particularly grateful to Senator Stephen Goldfinch, original sponsor of the bill, as well as Senators Chip Campsen, Paul Campbell, Sandy Senn and Marlon Kimpson and House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith and Representatives Leon Stavrinakis, Heather Crawford and Nathan Ballentine for their leadership and vision on this vital issue. We look forward to working together to continue advancing our state’s resilience in the months ahead,” she added.

It also calls for the creation of a state Resilience Office and provides for comprehensive statewide planning and preparation to ensure our state’s resilience against increasingly severe weather and flood events.

Local leaders say that statewide resilience planning, combined with the financial resources to implement necessary resilience measures, will allow the state to protect both our communities and natural resources for generations to come.

The bill emphasizes nature-based solutions for flood mitigation, which often represent the most cost-effective option while protecting habitat for birds and other wildlife. For example, NOAA estimated that coastal wetlands prevented $625 million in direct property damages during Hurricane Sandy.

Featured photo courtesy of Audubon South Carolina.

See Audubon South Carolina website.

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