Town of Cheraw continues to focus on disaster resilience in the wake of Hurricane Florence
In the wake of Hurricane Florence, Cheraw is striving to be resilient against future disasters. Hurricane Florence brought unprecedented challenges to Cheraw; the loss of our main water intake from the Pee Dee River, flooding from inadequate storm drainage, and flooded homes. Since 2018 the Town has been able to implement a number of grant funded projects to help us be resilient against future disaster.
One of the most important parts of disaster resilience is ensuring that critical systems continue to run in the event of an emergency. When Hurricane Florence washed out the raw water intake (pictured), the Town needed extra assistance from the City of Columbia to ensure that water could continue to flow to our homes and businesses in the short term. Long term, The US Economic Development Association awarded the town $824,000 to install a new water intake underground that would prevent another washout from occurring, ensuring the continued flow of water even in the worst flood conditions.
Cheraw’s storm water infrastructure presented major challenges during the heavy rains of Hurricane Florence, which dumped an astonishing 22 inches of rain on Cheraw in a short period of time. In September, engineering firm Davis and Floyd completed a Stormwater Master Plan for the Town of Cheraw. Created with the help of community residents, the plan will help eliminate long term flood hazards caused by inadequate storm water infrastructure. The Town has applied for $15 million dollars in grant funding from the South Carolina Office of Resiliency to begin implementing the plan, which will target four of the worst areas in Town. The $260,000 master plan was 100% grant funded with money from FEMA and the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office (SCDRO).
Resilience also means reducing flood impacts in areas that are subject to repeat floods. As part of the Town’s overall resilience plan, there are 9 properties along flood prone Huckleberry Creek that are being purchased and demolished. SCDRO awarded the Town a $1.7 million dollar grant for the program. The resulting vacant land will be used as permanent greenspace, restoring the natural floodplain to prevent future home floods.
While these projects will help reduce the impact of disasters, we must also prepare for future disaster response. Two new generators, purchased with grant money from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, have been installed to ensure that critical services may continue in the event of a power outage. One generator is at the public works department to ensure that cleanup efforts may be maintained. The other generator is at the Community Center, which serves a safe space for residents in the event of a disaster.
The Town will continue to find innovative ways and grants to help prepare for the next disaster. You can learn more about what communities can do to be more resilient by going to https://admin.sc.gov/SCDRO or https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/risk-management/hazard-mitigation-planning. You can also check out how you should be prepared for Hurricane Season by going to https://www.scemd.org/stay-informed/publications/hurricane-guide/.