The October floods inflicted about $12 billion in damage on South Carolina, putting the two-day storm’s impact on the same magnitude of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, according to early statistical analyses by the USC Darla Moore School of Business.
The statistics are preliminary, according to Doug Woodward, research division director at the University of South Carolina business school, which used an analytical model of Hugo’s aftermath to measure the flood damages in 2015 dollars. Hugo had an estimated $7 billion impact measured in 1989 U.S. currency values.
“It’s going to play out a little bit differently, and we’re going to analyze the impact that that’s going to have,” Woodward said Tuesday, rolling out the state’s annual economic forecast for the upcoming year.
A more detailed analysis of the flood’s impact on South Carolina will be released Dec. 17 during USC’s annual Economic Outlook Conference at the Moore business school.
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The October storm, which dumped up to 2 feet of rain on some regions of the state in two days, will have a significant impact on economic growth in 2016, the annual report states.
“Preliminary estimates suggest that the October floods will have a comparable economic impact to that of Hurricane Hugo,” Woodward said. “These include losses associated with property and infrastructure damage as well as a four-to-six-week period of major disruptions to business activity.”
The storm, which struck the S.C. coast Oct. 3 then moved into the Midlands Oct. 4, resulted in 22 of 46 counties being declared disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, although up to 40 counties may receive federal loans because of the disaster, Woodward said.
About 52,000 South Carolina residents applied for disaster relief, and some estimates say up to 160,000 homes sustained some damage from the storm. Richland County sustained the most damage, Woodward said, followed by Lexington County.
Three other counties suffering severe damage were Orangeburg, Berkeley and Dorchester, Woodward said. The key question is how many of the damaged homes were covered by flood insurance. Only about half the homes damaged in Hugo had flood insurance, Woodward said.
The October floods were “a widespread natural disaster across all of South Carolina,” Woodward said.
The regions damaged by the floods will also likely benefit from increased spending to rebuild in 2016 and beyond, Woodward said.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398