South Carolina Flood Update Week Of 11/30/15

It has been two months since historic flooding wreaked havoc on the Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry of South Carolina. Since then, CompuScripts Court Reporting has striven to provide our legal industry clients with information regarding court closings, road closures, and volunteer opportunities. This week, CompuScripts would like to offer our clients a flood update for three key areas: agribusiness, transportation, and construction.

UPDATE:Per FEMA, The deadline for survivors of South Carolina’s historic floods to register for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance has been extended an additional 30 days to Jan. 3, 2016.

Agribusiness

In a letter dated November 22, 2015, Gov. Nikki Haley asked the U. S. Department of Agriculture to expedite aid to South Carolina farmers. According to Greenville Online, Haley believes that the agency has been slow in its responses and burdensome in its requirements, especially in requiring that farmers harvest ruined crops. “Farmers who understand their crops and likely losses may be more comfortable certifying that they have destroyed their crops than going through the time and effort to bring valueless crops to harvest,” Haley wrote. Greatest losses have occurred in the production of peanuts, soybeans, cotton, and timber.

State Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers told Insurance Journal that agribusiness losses are now estimated at $587 million. For information on how you can aid family farmers facing economic hardship, visit Plant it Forward South Carolina or Farm Aid for donation opportunities.

Transportation

At the height of the flood, 541 roads were closed in South Carolina due to flooded roadways, road washout, or bridge damage, with Richland and Clarendon counties experiencing the highest number of road closures. As of November 20th, the South Carolina Department of Transportation reports that 87 percent of those roads are reopened. This is good news for attorneys, paralegals, and court reporters, and videographers who travel the state for depositions or court appearances. Thirteen more roads were expected to reopen by Thanksgiving, and contractors continue to make repairs to the remaining roads and bridges.

Construction

South Carolina homeowners affected by the floods continue the rebuilding process, so it is important to note that the deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is Friday, December 4, 2015. While most construction companies and building contractors are honest and reputable, the South Carolina Department of Labor, License, and Regulations reminds homeowners to beware of scam artists who charge inflated fees for shoddy work. To protect consumers, LLR offers the following tips:

  • Take photographs of damage before repairs.
  • Ensure that the person or business has the appropriate professional license to engage in the work offered by going to Licensee Lookup. If you have a question about whether the scope of work requires a license, call 803-896-4600. Many agencies or organizations, such as FEMA, may not provide reimbursement assistance to property owners if the individual or company with whom they contract does not hold the required licenses.
  • Do not panic and hire someone because they are the only company who can come out to your home or business immediately.
  • After assessing damage, contact local building departments for information on required permits. Your local building department has jurisdiction regarding the proper permitting for the project as well as whether and what types of inspections are required to ensure that minimum building codes are followed.
  • If possible, obtain recommendations from family, friends, or co-workers, and require that the builder provide you with a list of professional references that you can contact. The Better Business Bureau is also a reference source you may wish to utilize.
  • Report unlicensed builders to LLR and your local building department.

CompuScripts Court Reporters has been a part of the South Carolina legal community since 1993. The lawyers, paralegals, court reporters, and videographers affected by the floods are our clients, our employees, and our friends. To learn how you can help those still in recovery, visit the One SC Fund.