Katie Arrington Announces Lowcountry Flooding Plan

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Standing with municipal, county and state leaders – State Representative and Republican Nominee for Congress (SC-1) Katie Arrington?made three major announcements regarding solutions to Lowcountry flooding at a press conference today.

Arrington announced that, starting next Thursday, she will hold weekly Flooding Solutions Roundtables – open discussions with residents, business owners, community leaders, and elected officials to listen to their concerns and their ideas for solutions. Arrington added that she will host monthly Flooding Solutions Roundtables during her term in office.

Arrington also announced that, as Congresswoman, she will have a dedicated staff member working on flooding issues throughout the district.?This staff member will be someone experienced on the flooding issue and tasked with working on intergovernmental cooperation on mitigation projects, assisting families with FEMA claims, and helping Arrington with changes to the flood insurance program.

And, Arrington also announced that she will offer a full proposal for flooding solutions on the day she is sworn into office.

Arrington’s full remarks from the press conference are as follows:

There are a number of important issues that face our community, and we are here today to make an announcement about one that affects nearly every part of the district.

From here, near Church Creek in West Ashley, to the Marlborough neighborhood on James Island, from the Boulder Bluff neighborhood in Goose Creek to the All Joy area of Bluffton, from downtown Charleston to Belvedere Estates in Hanahan, from College Park in Ladson to the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, and, again, nearly everywhere in between – flooding has been and continues to be a top concern for residents and businesses alike.

That is why I am honored to have standing with me, leaders from municipal, county, and state governments. I thank Senator Sandy Senn, Representative Lin Bennett, Charleston County Councilman Brantley Moody, and Charleston City Councilman Kevin Shealy for standing with me and working hard to bring real solutions to the flooding problems in the Lowcountry.

Today, I am announcing three major initiatives to address the flooding problem in the Lowcountry.

First, starting?next Thursday, we will be holding a series of Flooding Solutions Roundtables.??

These open discussions will be opportunities to meet with residents, business owners, community leaders, and elected officials to listen to their concerns and their ideas for solutions.??

We will be holding weekly Flooding Solutions Roundtables throughout the rest of the campaign in homes, community centers, and coffee shops around the district.? Most importantly, when I am elected, I will be holding monthly Flooding Solutions Roundtables for my term in office.?

Second, as Congresswoman, I will have a dedicated staff member working on flooding issues throughout the district.? The staff member will be someone experienced on the issue and tasked with working on intergovernmental cooperation on mitigation projects, assisting families with FEMA claims, and helping me with changes to our flood insurance program.

And, third, over the course of the coming weeks and months, we are going to be drafting a full proposal to be ready on the day I am sworn into office.??

We need to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem.??

We need a cooperative, comprehensive plan; and there is already widespread agreement on some of the items that need to be addressed.

For example, we need better ditch and retaining pond maintenance. This is something the federal government can and should help with, both by helping to cover the costs for state and municipal maintenance and by increasing education for HOAs and homeowners about how individual actions contribute to the problem.

We need to look at specific flooding projects throughout the district such as upsized and more uniform storm drains, water diversion projects, and an expanded seawall for the Peninsula.??

Nearly every community has projects that desperately need funding.? The federal government has appropriated our tax dollars for flooding mitigation.? I will go to Washington to get our fair share.??

We need to have an open discussion about how local governments work together to craft uniform freeboard standards.? We need to revisit requirements for future development projects.? And, we need to address the way FEMA funds are spent – ensuring we’re not just cleaning up after the last flood, but also preparing for the next one.

Those are just some of the examples we are already working on.??

But rest assured, everything will be on the table.??

And the purpose of the Flooding Solutions Roundtable series is to hear from the people of the Lowcountry to better understand the local issues, down to the specific ditches that are overflowing.? We need to hear from people who have their own ideas on what we can do.

One final note: we need to cooperate, not compete.? By that, I mean every single community in the Lowcountry has problems that need to be addressed.? But we are stronger when we speak with one voice.??

We need to and will come together – residents, HOAs, community leaders, business owners, and municipal, county, and state elected officials – to work as a one team to get this done.? ??

Again, the first Flooding Solutions Roundtable will be held here in the Shadowmoss neighborhood at the home of Charleston City Councilman Harry Griffin. Details of next week’s roundtable and subsequent roundtables will be posted on our Facebook page and website, Vote Katie Arrington dot com.

In closing, I thank Senator Senn, Representative Bennett, and Councilmen Moody, Shealy and Griffin for their leadership and support of these efforts. I look forward to continuing to work with them as a team when I am in Congress to drain the Lowcountry and fix the flooding problems in our community.

5 Ways the Charleston Government can make the Lowcountry liveable again

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Yesterday’s flooding was not a wake up call for most that live in the Lowcountry, but the harsh reality of life on the coast in the heart of a targeted hurricane area.? Not only did the flooding cripple drivers throughout the area, but it has created concern on the health of our waters and the unsafe bacteria that can cause harm to children and adults enjoying basic recreational activities.

Mayor Tecklenburg and his staff made promises of “Better Liveability” in the Lowcountry if elected.? That is a subjective term and has room for multiple interpretations.? At its core, it is defined as:

1. suitable for living in; habitable; comfortable: to make a house livable.
2. worth living; endurable: something to make life more livable.
3. able to be lived with; companionable (often used in combination with with): charming but not altogether livable-with.
Many have voiced concerns that with the flooding issue still a critical area of worry, bridge structural and design issues in play, traffic continuing to spiral out of control, safety issues in the waters and cost of living in excess of the national inflationary rate due to a priority on tourism, we have not had any of our promises met.
We would like to take a stab and make a few proposals on how to provide the necessary funding to turn the tide and try and make this a place worth living for our residents that call Charleston home.

 

5 Ways to Raise Budgetary Funding to Provide Solutions to our Growing Liveability Struggles
  • Stronger zoning restrictions and higher zoning fees – Hotels, condominiums, housing, apartments and massive retail complexes are the new norm in Charleston.? When you leave the downtown Charleston area in any direction, cranes are a part of the scenery in all directions.? Construction seems to be running amuck with no signs of slowing down.? One Solution:? Add more zoning restrictions and higher zoning fees to raise more revenue and curtail the speed of expansion.
  • More in-depth land surveys on the long term effects of construction on specific plots of land – There is a growing concern of development in areas that have long term concerns around structural safety, flooding and destruction of wildlife homes and preserves.? With development going up on marshes and traditional flooding areas, there seems to be a lack of ethics and an abundance of greed.? We need to put safety and long term sustainability first.? When will this start to happen?
  • Non-resident tolls for Lowcountry beach entrance – Charge a tool for the entrance to Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Edisto Beach for non-residents.? If tourism is our bread and butter, we should gain additional revenue to fund projects that will help our residents and justify the 5 million plus tourists we have to see flood our area each year.
  • Higher property tax for a period of 3 – 5 years for all new construction – For all new commercial and hospitality construction, we should levy additional property tax for the first 3 to 5 years and then stagger back to the current rates.? Charleston is a commodity and there is a lot of profit to be had here.? We need to acknowledge that.
  • Increase luxury tax on high end items – Some argue Charleston has two classes, rich and poor with a very limited, almost non-visible middle class.? With some hotels charging up to $600 plus a night and high end retail throughout the city, we have an opportunity to levy increased luxury taxes to help fund our local projects.

There are our proposals.? We welcome all comments as well.

Local Charleston Resident and Government Officials Express Concern About the Future of Charleston after Recent Irma Attack

During the most recent regular meeting of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association following the passing of Tropical Storm Irma, members agreed to put off discussion of normal business matters in order to hear three speakers representing the city: Mark Wibert, a newly appointed “resilience” officer (a half-time position), Mark Matzler from the Public Works Department and Mike Seekings, city councilman representing South of Broad and Harleston Village.

  • Mark Wibert spoke about Charleston’s flooding history, recent trends in rising sea levels and sunny day flooding, and big events natural disaster events including hurricanes.
  • Mark Metzler spoke about improvements this year in debris cleanup after the storm and efforts to do better storm drain maintenance.
  • Mike Seekings recounted his experience at the Battery at high tide as waves over washed the road. He promised to push ahead on mitigation, but as of today, it is not clear how.

The candid discussion of these three gentleman, affects of the last storm on Charleston and personal sentiment have many local residents worried about the future.

Gadsden Street – September 11 (Photo Credit: Susan Lyons)

Local Charleston resident Susan Lyons, expressed her observations and personal thoughts on the recent neighborhood association meeting, stating:

“While Hurricane Irma inflicted catastrophic damage on islands and cities south of us, many on Charleston’s Peninsula south of the Crosstown once again found our houses, yards and crawlspaces flooded, needing new duct systems, worried about too many flood insurance claims and too much financial drain, and frustrated by the city’s response.

The Post and Courier’s editorial yesterday called for bold action now, business leaders are encouraging residents to call their state and federal representatives to ask for help, and neighborhood associations have begun to focus on the problem. Communication from the mayor and city council has been thin, but this week, Councilman Mike Seekings, who represents South of Broad and Harleston Village, reported that, despite his wife’s pleas, he went to the Low Battery two hours before and through the peak of high tide at about 12:30 p.m., on Monday, September 11, and captured in pictures what he called the “tsunami” of water — some of it from as far away as the Azores — as it crashed over the sea wall. At one point, he told Charlestowne Neighborhood Association members this week, the harbor water and the Battery “were at the same elevation.” No one has been willing to say, categorically, that the whole Battery was not in jeopardy of giving way one day.? Scary.

Mark Wilbert, the city’s half-time “resilience” officer, has reported that rising seas and intensified rain created high tide events on our streets 38 times in 2015, 50 times last year, and could number as many as 180 by 2040. That does not include severe storms.

We blame climate change, polar ice-melts, over-development, political myopia, bureaucratic buck-passing, and lack of money. But unless the Charleston community unites behind a dynamic and costly flood prevention and mitigation program now, homeowners and businesses will continue losing ground, literally, residents considering leaving town will sell and go, and our city will decline.

Progress has been made on some fronts. Improved check valves were said to have worked well during Irma until the Battery was breached by the surge at high tide, Mark Metzler of the city’s Public Works Department reported that cleanup of debris, storm drain maintenance, and damage surveys of individual homes all have been more efficient this year. And while work continues on the myriad of projects set forth in a 1984 plan, they are not even half finished. A new consultant is said to be coming to City Hall in January to review the entire city’s “remedies vs. threats,” a representative of the Dutch Embassy may pay a visit to Charleston to share that country’s wisdom, and some homeowners are looking into the feasibility of raising their houses.

But the big work — a new sea wall that extends to the Coast Guard Station, and raising Lockwood Drive to protect the Peninsula’s lower west side — appear to be a long way off.
City officials displayed a map of the Charleston Peninsula early on before its west side had been developed on fill, and before many of its creeks and river fingers were paved over. Striking was the picture of where flooding occurred here — water rising in most of those watery same places. “Mother Nature wants her land back,” Councilman Seekings told the CNA audience this week.

Charleston will need all the help she can get to keep her at bay. All of us will need to pitch in.”

 

Gadsden Street – September 13 (Photo Credit: Susan Lyons)