Obama declares S.C. winter storm ‘major disaster’

Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published March 13, 2014

President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in South Carolina and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in 21 counties hammered by last month’s winter storm.

The declaration provides aid to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities.

A close up of how the ice storm broke trees apart. (Photo provided by S.C. Forestry Commission)
A close up of how the ice storm broke trees apart.
(Photo provided by S.C. Forestry Commission)
State officials estimate that during the Feb. 10-14 storm, South Carolina suffered $435 million in damages, including $360 million to its timber industry. Another $55 million in losses were suffered by government agencies and utilities, and $20 million in insured losses.

The S.C. Forestry Commission said that the loss to the timber industry was the worst since Hurricane Hugo raked the state in 1989, causing about $1 billion in damage to forestland.

Commission surveys show a 170-mile-long, 70-mile-wide band of timber damage extending from the Savannah River to the North Carolina border.

About 1.5 million acres of forestland suffered direct or intermediate timber losses, the commission said. Other unmeasured costs include growth loss due to tree canopy damage and reduced residual tree value due to stem damage.

“The raw material supply chain for our state’s largest manufacturing sector has suffered from this natural disaster,” said State Forester Henry E. Kodama. “The storm has impacted hundreds of thousands of individual forestland owners and multiple corporations. Forestland owners and forest product manufacturing is dependent on a consistent cycle of tree growth and harvests, and the storm has disturbed this cycle over much of the state.”

The Forestry Commission estimates that 25,000 to 30,000 acres of timber will have to be salvaged and replanted.

Counties covered by the disaster declaration are Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Berkeley, Calhoun, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Marion, Orangeburg, Saluda, Sumter and Williamsburg counties, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The disaster declaration provides aid to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations that suffered some $435 million in losses following the Feb. 10-14 storm.

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