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Flood damage will cost state $114 million

October’s flood will cost the state of South Carolina an estimated $114 million, Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday.

The federal government will pay an additional $493 million, the Republican governor’s office estimated.

Repairing S.C. roads and bridges alone will cost $137 million with the state paying $49 million of that cost, according to the state Transportation Department.

Statewide, flood losses are pushing $1.5 billion, including $587 million in agricultural losses, $181 million in insurance claims and $35 million in tourism losses.

Haley, who often has criticized Washington for overspending, said Tuesday that she is asking the federal government for $140 million in grants to repair flood-damaged housing. That money would come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to repair 2,600 properties owned by low- and moderate- income families.

That cost — roughly $54,000 per home — is included in the $493 million that Haley’s office estimates the federal government will pay for flood costs.

Haley said she will ask lawmakers to pay the state’s $114 million in flood costs in next year’s state budget. Haley plans to include the money in her budget proposal, typically released in January, outlining her spending priorities to lawmakers.

Lawmakers, who write the state’s $7.7 total general fund budget, have been meeting to assess flood-related costs incurred by state agencies.

Efforts to reach state Senate leader Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, Tuesday for reaction to Haley’s proposal to pay cash for the flooding damages were unsuccessful.

Reaction from other legislators to Haley’s proposal was mixed.

“Clearly we are looking forward to getting the numbers in as much detail as we can as soon as we can,” said state Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington.

Setzler, the leader of Senate Democrats, had said he would introduce a borrowing plan to pay for flood costs. He said Tuesday borrowing is one of an option available to the General Assembly.

State Rep. Gary Simrill, R-York, who sits on the House budget-writing panel, said borrowing only should be used for long-term needs. “Bonding ... should not be used to pay bills,” Simrill said, adding the flood damage is a bill.

Haley ruled out borrowing to pay for flood-repair costs. Earlier this year, Haley helped defeat a $500 million borrowing proposal in the House that would have paid for construction and building repairs.

Haley said the added $1.2 billion in revenues that lawmakers will have to spend when they return in January means the state can afford to pay for the flood damages. However, other causes will compete for that added money, including requests for more money from state agencies, money to repair state roads and bridges that already were crumbling before the flooding, and the cost of responding to a Supreme Court ruling requiring the state to improve rural schools.

Haley already has approved moving $9.3 million from the state’s unclaimed property account to cover added flood-related costs incurred by the S.C. National Guard and its Emergency Management Division. That agency spent almost $40 million responding to the flood, Adjutant General Bob Livingston said last month.

More than 90,000 South Carolinians have registered statewide for federal disaster aid, Haley said, adding several hundred more apply each day. The deadline to apply for that aid has been extended until Jan. 3.

Staff writer Avery Wilks contributed.

Flood costs push $1.5 billion

Costs

$607 million in costs to federal and state government, including $137 million to repair flood-damaged roads and bridges

$587 million in losses to state agriculture, including lost wages and ruined crops

$181 million in insurance claims

$82 million in disaster loans by the federal Small Business Administration

$35 million in tourism losses

Who will pay?

$493 million in estimated costs the federal government will pay, including $140 million in grants that Gov. Nikki Haley requested Tuesday to repair damaged housing. Much of the rest of the federal money will go to reimburse the state and local governments for their flood costs.

$114 million in estimated costs that state government will pay

SOURCE: S.C. Governor’s Office, state agencies

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