Tropical Storm Irma may not have affected Hilton Head and the rest of Beaufort County as much as Hurricane Matthew did, but it was bad enough for President Donald Trump to order federal aid for recovery efforts.
The president declared that a major disaster existed in Beaufort County in Irma’s wake, according to a release Tuesday from S.C. Gov Henry McMaster’s office. The announcement of the order came the day after Trump visited with McMaster — an early Trump supporter — in Greenville.
The order clears the way for federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts following the Sept. 11 storm.
Sixteen South Carolina counties, including Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties, will be eligible to apply for federal funding to cover 75 percent of approved costs related to damage from Irma, the release said.
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Those costs include, among other things: debris removal, emergency protective measures, and repairs to roads, bridges and parks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency previously approved reimbursement to state and local governments for the costs related to emergency protective measures, the release said.
Interim Beaufort County administrator Josh Gruber said Tuesday that all of the county’s costs are internal because it never activated outside contracts for recovery efforts. Because of that, he said, the county was already eligible for federal aid.
“(The costs) are going to be two-fold,” said Gruber. “First will probably be the cost incurred for having to respond to the storm. The second portion of that is going to be cleanup costs.”
For Hilton Head, the biggest post-Irma expense will be the additional beach renourishment, town manager Steve Riley said Tuesday. The island did not sustain much damage otherwise, he said.
“Whatever we are eligible for we will certainly pursue,” Riley said.
Scott Liggett, director of public projects and facilities and chief engineer for the town, said previously the additional beach renourishment would cost between $3 million and $5 million, which he noted would likely be taken from unallocated money from the South Island Emergency Beach Fill project.
Beach renourishment after Irma is roughly the same scope as the ongoing beach fill project and will replace about 350,000 cubic yards of sand along 11,400 feet of Atlantic shorefront.
Trump’s order came after McMaster requested a disaster declaration on Sept. 28, following a damage assessment by the state Emergency Management Division and FEMA, the governor’s release said. Additional S.C. counties may be added at a later date, according to the release.