With the start of the new year, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette today will preview some of the biggest local issues expected to impact the lives of residents, workers, business owners and tourists in Beaufort County and surrounding areas. Following is one of 17 issues to watch in 2017:
Hurricane Matthew barreled through Beaufort County last October, but the storm’s effects will linger for months. On Hilton Head Island, recovery efforts could span two years or longer, town manager Steve Riley has said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s public assistance program provides grants to residents affected by Hurricane Matthew, so 2017 may bring much-needed financial relief to some residents. But past history of the public assistance program has shown denials are common, especially for homeowners with insurance.
Local authorities were successful in securing approval for federal funding for debris removal on private roads, but FEMA doesn’t cover all of the cleanup costs. To recoup depleted government reserve funds, Beaufort County residents might see increases in future property tax bills. And for those who live behind private gates, assessments have already increased in some communities. Others said they were waiting until the new year to decide.
This year could bring a better picture of how much financial assistance federal and state agencies will provide in Matthew’s aftermath — and how big of a bill will be left for local taxpayers.