Homes in Rosewood are being raised nearly as high as hopes they won’t flood again.
The international relief group Samaritan’s Purse has worked to raise four homes in the Socastee community roughly seven feet off the ground at no cost to homeowners.
“It’s great to be able to help,” said Frank Antes of Pawleys Island, project superintendent for North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse. “They’re neighbors.”
Floodwaters invaded several homes in the neighborhood due to Hurricane Florence, forcing many residents — some who had already been rocked by flooding in the last few years — to live in hotels, campers or with loved ones.
Brown stains are seen on fences, sheds and columns throughout the neighborhood marking how high those waters rose.
A number of Rosewood homes have gone from havens to constructions sites, with many homeowners seeking solutions on how to deal with the repetitive flooding issue.
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational Christian evangelical organization dedicated to helping the needy while spreading Christianity, Antes said.
Following Florence's devastation, disaster team members with the group helped with mudding out Horry County homes and treating mold.
Antes said the organization has set up a headquarters at Timberlake Baptist Church off S.C. 707 and plans to be in the community for two years as they work on as many as 50 homes.
Each week, a new team of volunteers, many who have come from faraway states such as Wisconsin and Kentucky, to work on the homes.
Typically around 15 to 18 volunteers stay at the church (they arrive on Sunday and leave on Friday) and Samaritan’s Purse also has a list of local day volunteers able to assist when needed.
Certain criteria must be met for applicants, and different factors are taken into account, including if one is a veteran or disabled. Those who own second homes are ineligible and the homeowners who successfully apply must also agree to stay in the new abodes for five years.
Not all the homes being worked on are in Rosewood, Antes said, but also in other communities like nearby Bridgecreek and in the city of Conway, where one home has been dedicated.
He pointed out a home that flooded for the first time last year and saw just an inch or two of floodwater, for example, might be rehabilitated and not raised.
Antes expects there to be 10 homes finished countywide sometime in the next few months.
One of those homes, which has been raised, is on White Pine Drive in Rosewood. There, sweat-soaked volunteers in orange T-shirts could be seen Monday morning, praying before doing various tasks.
Antes said the volunteers are able to perform work such as painting, putting down new flooring, shelving and indoor insulation efforts.
“Pretty much the inside is completely ours (to work on),” he said, adding labor including plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning work is subcontracted out.
Samaritan’s Purse’s efforts which includes all the repairs and elevations is operated by donations, and Antes credited donors’ generosity.
He added the organization hopes to spread the word that applications are still being accepted. Anyone interested in applying can contact Antes at 843-331-2508.
As for Rosewood, two more homes have since been approved for elevation.
One of those belongs to Lori Paredes and her husband Pete.
Flooding from Hurricane Matthew ruined a Jeep and a motorcycle at their Rosewood Drive home in 2016. It was even worse two years later, when four foot of flooding occupied the dwelling.
The family recently finished repairs at the home, but welcome the upcoming elevation with the hopes it will be safe in case the community floods once more.
Lori Paredes is again preparing for the family to move out temporarily for a few months as the pair’s home is raised.
The organization does not help with accommodations, which can prove challenging for successful applicants like the Paredes’.
Lori Paredes said the two stayed at a hotel on Ocean Boulevard for three to four months because of Florence, but wonders if she can afford to do the same this time around.
Further complicating things are their two dogs, which they didn’t have when last fall’s flooding arrived.
Still, she expressed gratitude for the Samaritan’s Purse’s efforts.
“I’m thankful,” she said.
After Florence’s havoc, leaders have discussed ideas on how to tackle the threat of future flooding and assisting flood victims.
A floodwater commission, which was formed by Gov. Henry McMaster, is tasked with coming up with recommendations and actions.
Funding has also been secured for a study examining dredging of the Socastee Creek.
Additionally, local lawmakers have expressed interest in building a diversion canal off the Waccamaw River near the border separating the Carolinas. The canal idea was originally pitched decades ago but abandoned because of its cost.
While a buyout using federal funding for homes in communities like Rosewood could end up being an option, Horry County councilman Cam Crawford, whose own Bridgecreek home flooded, pointed out this could take years.
Even if someone was offered federal money for a buyout, that person would be eligible for just 75 percent of the property’s appraised value pre-flood, and a homeowner might struggle to come up with the other 25 percent.
One bill that looks to address that problem currently resides in the state House of Representatives. Proposed is implementing a state resilience fund overseen by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Flood Mitigation Office. Money in the fund would go toward low interest loans and grants for flood victims as well as a buyout program for homes that frequently flood, with the goal of helping residents move out of a flood zone and restoring wetlands in those areas.
Another idea to fill the gap is using funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery, or CDBG-DR, program.
The program deals with disasters that are presidentially declared.
The U.S. Congress approves appropriation and then HUD announces allocations, publishes a notice in the Federal Register and awards funds.
In South Carolina, the state Congress must determine how much money goes toward impacted communities like Horry County.
The county is asking HUD for a direct allocation, which would make it so the funds wouldn’t have to be administered at a state level, said Courtney Kain, the county's Community Development Block Grants coordinator.
Horry County is looking manage the grant funding, which can not only help with buyouts for properties but also with incentives.
What HUD focuses on are making sure homeowners affected by flooding are able to have a safe place to live and helping them become financially sound as possible.
Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a $281,000 grant for the county’s resiliency plan focused on tackling areas with the most need.
The county has identified a consultant and is in the process of entering into a contract for the plan, which — along with a lot of community outreach — is expected to be complete early next year.
To be included in the full plan is policies on planning and zoning, highlighting of infrastructure projects that should be prioritized, how to design a buyout program and where resources should be centered.
The plan highlights and emphasizes helping which neighborhoods that see the most flooding.
One area that local and state leaders have pointed to in the county that sees repetitive flooding is Rosewood itself.
Plywood at the upper outside deck of the White Pine Drive home expected to be dedicated next month quotes John 16:33.
“I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace,” the quote reads. “In the world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”