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Inside FEMA’s South Carolina Flooding Response


Late last week, what’s been called “historic” and “1,000 year-level” flooding began in the Southeast United States—with South Carolina getting hit with the brunt of it. As the situation has changed, we've changed right along with it.

In the photo below, you can see members of one of our incident management teams collaborating inside the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia, SC. We embed these teams in states’ emergency operation centers during response efforts in order to make coordination with the state and our other partners quicker and easier.

A photo of two FEMA incident management team members deployed to the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center. They were deployed to assist in the flood recovery in October 2015.

We've also deployed two of our Urban Search and Rescue teams who are highly-trained and prepared to perform swift water rescues. The two teams that have deployed are the teams based out of Virginia. Virginia Task Force 1, out of Fairfax County in Northern Virginia, shared this photo of just some of the equipment they’re bringing with them to help.

VA-TF1 preparing to depart for South Carolina with Swift Water boats and personnel.

— Fairfax Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) October 5, 2015

While we’ve got those operations on the ground, we’re also working out of our coordination center in Atlanta, Georgia. This center creates the link between the state and FEMA and its federal partners on a regionally-focused level. Atlanta is our headquarters for the region that encompasses much of the Southeast.  

.@FEMA continues to work w/ fed partners @ our Regional Response Coordination Center in Atlanta to help coordinate any requests for help.

— Rafael Lemaitre (@FEMAspox) October 4, 2015

I’ve covered people and places. The last piece would be the things. We’ve got supplies pre-positioned in case they’re needed or requested in other areas. These supplies—among other things—include bottles of water, meals and blankets. These supplies are located at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and once they’re requested, they’re given to states, locals, and tribal officials to distribute where they’re needed most.

Our operations aren’t just at the state and regional levels; we’re also coordinating at the national level. Our watch center at our Washington, DC headquarters has increased its staff to make sure the situation is being monitored as closely as possible.

If a state’s governor feels there has been enough damage to warrant federal assistance, they can request a major disaster declaration from the President. These declarations allow the state to request assistance for public infrastructure as well as individuals and households. The decision to grant the request is based on damage assessments.

When the rains began to get bad, South Carolina was granted an emergency declaration for 46 counties and one tribe. These declarations allow us to identify and provide equipment the state may need to complete its response efforts and help us do a lot of the things I mentioned before—move staff into the state and pre-position supplies.

As we continue to watch the floods, we encourage you to listen to state and local officials and check in on friends, family, and loved ones in the affected area.

Those impacted by #scwx, continue to listen to local officials. Accounts to follow: @NWSCharlestonSC @SCEMD #chswx

— FEMA (@fema) October 4, 2015

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Last Updated: 
06/02/2017 - 09:20


I am a heavy equipment operator...where do I go to look for work to help with the clean up in south Carolina?

FEMA will not help with my secondary home that was damaged in the food! that's absurd. I thought that's what they are here for. My home has over 5feetof water damage.


how much does a storm need to get disastrous before you declare it a disaster? Understand FEMA has not declared...

Do I need to register for anything right now? My home has not been damaged yet. I am less than half a mile from the edisto river. It's supposed to crest to 20feet by Saturday.

I am an EMT-Basic living in Colorado. Johnsonville, SC is my hometown where I grew up. I am interested in physically helping there. What is the best way for me to do so?

i would like to go donate my time to help the family's that need relief my family would do it for me but no im currently doing nothing an have been the past year cant seem to get a job so i would be happy to get out of here an help someone that needs it thanks.

No that is what insurance is for.

FEMA will only assist with the primary residence. They are only there to provide a step up for survivors, not to make them whole, that's what home insurance is for. FEMA's main duty to "at best" is to turn what is tragic into an inconvenience. It's to help survivors get on their feet, not to replace all property. Remember, that's what homeowner's insurance is for.

Thank you for reading our update, and for the questions and comments. To volunteer and donate, visit this resource page: // Regarding disaster-related questions, our staff is happy to answer your questions; please call 800-621-3362 to register for assistance.

I moved from New York to Myrtle Beach Back in April 2015. I was a Licensed home inspector in New York for 17 years. Now that I reside in Myrtle Beach, SC I have open my inspection company, I'm licensed in South Carolina and Horry County. If FEMA is looking for inspectors, please contact me or direct me to contact someone regarding home inspections. Thank you

I am a member of the Cary Lake Homeowbers Association in Colimbia, 29206. Our dam broke early SubondY morning. The Board Assiciation will held a meeting on Friday, October 9th at 6:00 PM at the Arcadia Lakes Town Hall., we need information and direction on how to proceed, how to apply for an infrastructure grant and how to strictly follow best management practices. Would you be able to send a rep. for this meeting?

This is a really common problem, the only way to deal with it is to help our people

I know it is hard to find patience in this, understand that you are in day 4 or 5 but FEMA is just getting started. Expert Tips for Surviving the Storm After the Flood. Many homeowners as well as business owners will wake up tomorrow to the stark fact that the damage to their home and/or business is not insured. Patience will be the first order of business required to navigate the days ahead but will serve you well if you can manage. I will get to steps on what to do and not do shortly but cannot stress enough the magnitude of calls, emails and total overload your local insurance agent will face in the morning. Take a deep breath, grab your insurance policy and a cup of coffee and read it, thousands of hours can be saved tomorrow if you can come to terms that you are or are not covered before some poor soul at your insurance agent has to explain it to you twice. There is help, you do have options but none are quick and are just packed with stress, remember patience before you dial that phone. You first order of business especially after a flood is to make sure that your home and buildings are structurally sound and safe for you and your family to stay. We are not all engineers but a little common sense can go a long way. • If your home or business has been flooded, carefully turn off all power at the main breaker and do not restore until it has been inspected by a licensed electrician. • Inspect the interior of your home for un-level floors, cracks in the walls and trim work that appears to have moved or has pulled away from the wall (signs of structural issues). • Inspect the exterior of your home for scouring (dirt washed away from curtain wall or any presentation of your foundation). Undermined foundations, footing and piers can represent significant danger to your family. • If you suspect structural damage please do not stay, saturated soils are very unstable. • Protect your property as much as possible from further damage if you can do so safely. • If your property has flooded, under no circumstance start your Heat and Air system up! • If you hire a contractor for repairs….Know your contractor and insure they are licensed!!! o o Once you are certain that your property is safe and after inspecting it make a list of the damage, nothing that you notice is too small to document and will be a great guide for you when discussing your needs with your Insurance/FEMA adjuster or contractor. Only after the above is complete are you ready to dial that phone, you will be aware, informed and heads above your neighbors that do not have a plan. • Call your insurance agent, even if you do not have flood insurance, they can provide you with critical information that can help you and there are things that may be covered under them. Be concise and clear about your damage. • Go online and complete a FEMA assistance application, there are a variety of Individual Assistance programs that could be available. (// • Go online and investigate SC programs that might provide assistance for the State of SC (// • Contact your local SBA representative and explore options with them as well.

My driveway is very steep and winds around through my property and exits at a second drive. EMS and South Carolina Electric and UPS and Mail use this driveway. The flooding water during the storm has left this driveway impassable. There is ditches cut through, across the driveway. These ditches are so big that truck tires can not even cross them. The rocks and concrete have washed away. My insurance adjuster said that my insurance company will not pay for me to get any repairs to my driveway. They are assessing my leaking roof. This water may have gotten under my house. Can you help me. This driveway is my primary assess to my home. Thank you for all of your help.

If you used that second home as a rental property, SBA maybe able to help you, if you qualify financially...

I hope everyone can get back so some sort of normality as soon as possible. It's hard being displaced by natural disasters.

if you collect relief money, Do you have to pay it back?

Dam-It Dams Inc. has proven to be the world’s cofferdam specialists by successfully completing projects for: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Natural Resources along with Contractors and Leading Engineering firms throughout the Public and Private Sectors around the world. Dam-It Dams is seeking a partner in an effort to limit damage and impacts from flooding events throughout the world. We have developed an extremely effective option for deploying our system when and where it is needed. Our strategy is to rent standby staging units, "Shipping Container, Trailer, Storage Unit, Warehouse Etc." in strategic locations around the country and world that are apt to flooding events. The system would be rented from Dam-It Dams and would have all necessary tools and parts to deploy the system should a flood event be predicted. Dam-It Dams will make yearly checks on each container to assure contents have not been tampered with and verify all components are still at their optimal operating conditions. By placing standby units in strategic locations this allows for the system to be accessed and deployed prior to an event. Depending on the geological location of the standby system, flooding may not be the only threat that an area may face. For example, Colorado has a high potential of both flood events as well as forest fires. The Dam-It Dams system can be used as a barrier to protect, "Roads, Buildings, Structures, and Transportation Systems, Etc." from flooding, as well as provide onsite water for fighting fires. A typical Dam-It Dam system can hold up to 200,000 gallons of easily accessible water. Not only does our system have multiple uses for different events it is also compact. So compact, that a standard staging unit has the capability of providing over 5 Million Gallons of water storage to fight fires and over 1 Mile of flood protection barriers. We would like to further discuss the possibilities of working together on a solution to minimize the impacts of floods and fires. Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss details. We also have dams on hand for immediate use and would be happy to help in any way possible. Thank you for your time and best of luck in your efforts.

My back yard was flooded about two days. Now I am getting a mildew smell in side. Do FEMA help with this?

A quicker and easier coordination sounds like a good start.

I have a large dump truck and was wondering where do I go to look for work to help with the clean up in south Carolina?

I have a large Dump truck where would I go to look for work to help with the clean up in south Carolina?

I have a large Dump truck where would I go to look for work to help with the clean up in south Carolina?

These storms in South Caroline were the worst I have ever seen, and without FEMA these people would be lost. I don't understand the negative comments.

Totally disappointed in fema--just because I have house insurance I still need help for being dislocated and the extra expenses of the flood but FEMA says NOTHING for me until I file a claim with my house insurance which could take weeks. I NEED HELP NOW!!! Thanks for nothing. Neighbor who lived in a relatives camper got instant help and rent money. I am living in a dark house with no electricity and water all around. Sad. So much for disaster relief.

I would like to help with and if the clean up from the floods in South Carolina where do I go tio look for a job?


The flood came threw my doors and soaked my kitchen Area and mildewed a few other areas. Is there a claim within fema where I may possibly file for repairs?

nice blog

My Dad owns our mobile home we live in, we pay the payments, he lives at another residence......the storm ruined our roof from the rain. It's leaking and sinking in. Is this something FEMA will assist in replacing. The insurance he has does not cover roof replacements apparently.


I would like to go work over there is there jobs cleaning up I'm interested and who do I contact.

I am a lic contractor in mass and was inquiring if any construction workers are needed in S.C. for home repair. Please reply if needed.

I am disappointed, disgusted and feel very betrayed by the assistance program ....I am a single mother of 2 children ages 5 and 3 , they have had to lose their home and ALL of their belongings due to a 1000 year flood that fema denied them assistance because per the regulations of femas "guidelines" we do not qualify for help in all of our possessions ....So I a single mother have to look in 2 small children's eyes and tell them they don't qualify .....again I'm embarrassed by the stipulations and appalled at the nature of an institution such as this that boost in constant ads on relief but only to give meaningless hope for people in a disaster experiencing great tragedy and loss. I am suppose to show proof to have a second "evaluation" of all of the things that I have LOST otherwise apply for a loan through the small business association , and yes you heard right a LOAN for all that I have already paid for.

I have a 1996 Ford Ranger and am interested in moving trash from affected areas around Columbia and mainly West Columbia at affordable costs.

How do I get the number to go help clean up in myrtle beach s.c. From the storm

When will i start to work because need a job A.S.A.P