Beaufort is among 13 South Carolina counties declared a federal disaster area by President Barack Obama after the winds and rains of Hurricane Matthew pummeled the state.
Gov. Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that the order allows federal aid to help local and state recovery efforts in counties most severely affected by Hurricane Matthew.
“It means to me that someone’s paying attention,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said Tuesday evening.
“We have a lot of people who are sort of wandering around needing attention,” he continued, rattling off questions citizens have about home repairs, insurance, drinking water, sewers and getting back to work. “Hopefully what this means is that resources will come available to help the community answer some of these questions and provide help to citizens that are most needy.”
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The declaration allows the federal government to reimburse local governments, state agencies, some nonprofit organizations and electric cooperatives for some expenses incurred after the storm. Disaster aid is not currently available for individuals.
“The president’s declaration came very quickly,” Hilton Head Island Town Manager Steve Riley said. “And we’re glad for that.”
Riley said federal reimbursements would help the town move forward on some of its initiatives, especially those that involve the island’s private communities and roads.
“We’ll be able to get some of that money back,” he said, “and reinvest it in the community.”
Attempts early Tuesday evening to reach Beaufort County Administrator Gary Kubic and Hilton Head Mayor David Bennett were unsuccessful.
The declaration applies to Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Darlington counties. Other counties covered include Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Marion and Williamsburg.
“It’s a good thing,” Keyserling said. “It’s well accepted, and I hope we take good advantage of it and manage whatever resources are available wisely.”