If another hurricane strikes South Carolina, Rep. Mark Sanford wants residents in private communities and neighborhoods with homeowners associations to be eligible for help cleaning up debris.
Congressman Sanford introduced a bill in early July – the Disaster Assistance Equity Act – that would allow common interest communities – neighborhoods, condominium complexes, and cooperatives that share amenities and infrastructure typically owned by an homeowners association (HOA) – to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid following a natural disaster.
“I find it strange that FEMA treats the 70 million Americans who live in common interest communities differently than it does those who live in other types of communities,” said Congressman Sanford. “In my experience, storms don’t discriminate between different kinds of communities. As such, it seems to me that FEMA should treat them all equally when it comes to the assistance available in the wake of a disaster. The simple aim of the bill is to treat taxpayers the same.”
Under current guidelines, Kiawah, like other HOA’s throughout the country, is not eligible for FEMA assistance following a natural disaster (i.e. hurricane, fire, earthquake, etc.). KICA COO Jimmy Bailey believes this should change and supports this proposed bill as a step in the right direction.
“Residents in private communities or neighborhoods with homeowners associations are citizens who pay the same federal taxes as everyone else. This is an issue of equity.”
Sanford’s bill is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of New York congressmen: Democrats Jerry Nadler and Eliot Engel, and Republicans Peter King and Lee Zeldin.
The Disaster Assistance Equity Act has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for discussion and a recommendation.
“I urge association members around the country to contact their elected officials expressing their support of this bill,” said Bailey. “We were lucky that Hurricane Matthew resulted in only a modest supplemental assessment for clean-up and repair, but a bigger storm could create a huge financial burden. Fixing this flaw in the current guidelines would prevent that from happening.”
Kiawah faced extraordinary additional expense following Hurricane Matthew this fall. Kiawah was fortunate enough to be spared loss of life or serious injury. However, there was substantial tree damage and debris, along with total destruction of a number boardwalks and the Rhett’s Bluff dock system. View the January 2017 issue of Digest for a look inside Hurricane Matthew’s impact on Kiawah.
Repair costs, initially estimated between $2 million and $3 million, are projected at $1,363,510. At a special meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 20, the KICA Board of Directors voted to approve an additional 2016 Supplemental Assessment to recoup $1.1 million of Hurricane Matthew expenditures, while absorbing the remaining costs.
Assessment statements will be mailed to primary owners this week and include a complete analysis of the Hurricane Matthew Supplemental Assessment. To learn more about the Supplemental Assessment, view the information below:
Town of Kiawah Island staff conducted a GPS survey of the dune line before and after Hurricane Matthew. The pre-storm survey was conducted on Oct. 5 and the post-storm survey was conducted on Oct. 10. Surveys were conducted using a survey grade GPS with submeter accuracy. Overall, Kiawah’s beach suffered extensive erosion but no homes were impacted by erosion. Beach walkovers sustained significant damage and almost all walkovers will require inspection and repairs. Kiawah’s extensive dune system performed its role exactly as it should have. The role of dunes is to sacrifice themselves to protect inland areas. This is exactly what occurred. Beaches are extremely resilient and eroded sand will slowly make its way back up onto our beaches and dunes will begin to rebuild naturally.
While many of our members have made their way to the island, we understand that most do not call Kiawah their home year-round and are anxious to have a better sense of what the island looks like, how recovery is going, and most importantly how your property fared.
We can’t slow recovery efforts to do a detailed survey or photograph each individual property, but the Town of Kiawah Building Department has conducted what is known as a “windshield survey” of every home on the island. The purpose of this survey is to look for obvious property damage that can be seen from the vehicle. This process wrapped up yesterday, and out of all the homes on the island, they identified just four with the possibility of minor damage (two with potential flooding, one with a tree leaning on the home and one with tree damage to the front stairs). While these are just drive-by surveys, it appears our members’ homes have fared very well. Of the large trees that fell, it’s amazing how many fell away from structures.
While structural damage appears limited, the island was littered with debris. KICA crews, along with those from the town and the other major entities, have been busily working since the moment we could return. The island is already starting to look like it always did. In fact, as you drive through the main gate, other than a few debris piles along the side of the road, it’s hard to tell that we even had bad weather. Our goal is to have the entire island looking like that as quickly as possible.
As previously reported, our beach did take a significant hit with the loss of many boardwalks. The dunes were impacted, but the reality is that they did their job as a natural shock absorber for storm surge. Right now, KICA has reopened only three of its 25 boardwalks and we, along with the town and others, are evaluating the best short- and long-term solutions for beach access. KICA also lost the majority of its dock system at Rhett’s Bluff, and it appears some of the private docks along the river had damage as well.
All in all, we consider ourselves lucky that the brunt of the storm came at low tide and the wind damage was minimal. One member commented yesterday that his house was fine but his landscaper was going to make some money. That’s a pretty fair assessment of what we’ve seen around the island. That said, all members should try to visit their property for a detailed inspection. If you can’t get here, we encourage you to have a friend, neighbor or property manager do it for you.
The KICA Board has been provided updates multiple times per day, starting several days in advance of the storm and continuing to this point. They will meettomorrow to discuss recovery progress and we’ll continue to update you as well. Listed below are some bulleted updates on recovery operations.
Finally, I’d like to salute the great work being done by “Team Kiawah.” All involved in this effort have worked together toward a common goal of getting back to normal as quickly as possible. The work has not been easy, and it will continue for quite a while, but the collaboration has been outstanding.
Jimmy Bailey, Jr.
Chief Operating Officer
– Power is on to all areas with the exception of Green Dolphin Way, Sea Forest Drive, and the Settlement. KICA is in touch with Berkeley Electric to try and determine the issue.
– KICA has been advised that Main Road is open for inbound traffic only until 4 p.m. today; both lanes will be closed at 4 p.m.
– All streets are accessible; however, not all are clear. At least one lane is open on all roads. Be cautious.
– Leisure trails remain closed due to downed trees and heavy debris.
Boardwalks remain closed except for BW 1 (Duneside), BW 8A (Sandcastle Pool) and 28 (Turtle Beach Lane). Do not go around barricades.
– KICA and the Town of Kiawah have large numbers of personnel and contractors on the island, some working in areas you would not expect. For their safety and yours, please drive slowly and with caution.
– Kiawah Island Utility is asking residents to continue to limit wastewater generation until all their wastewater stations are operational. They are hopeful to have this complete tomorrow.
– The Town of Kiawah Island has published its Storm Debris Removal Schedule as well as its previously published schedule for trash and recycling. View the updated schedule here.
– The Kiawah Island Golf Resort plans to open the following facilities on normal schedules as follows:
Wednesday, Oct. 12 – Southern Kitchen, Tomasso, Cherrywood BBQ, Ryder Cup Bar
Thursday, Oct. 13 – The Atlantic Room
Friday, Oct. 14 – golf courses, recreation, tennis, and the Sanctuary