I’ve heard the story time and again.

People who have worked hard all of their lives to pay off the mortgage on their homes have been devastated by the flood water from Hurricane Florence.

Nearly a month since the Waccamaw River rose nearly 22 feet above flood stage, hundreds of families in Horry County still struggle with the devastation left behind.

And, it’s not just homeowners. Many businesses were also swamped by the flood. Many in Conway, for example, are struggling to make up for time lost by the forced closure of their doors.

There is no doubt, people impacted by the flood are a resilient lot and most of them will bounce back from the catastrophe.

In the meantime, they must struggle with many difficult decisions.

Water from Florence inundated many parts of Conway and Horry County that had never come close to flooding before.

People living in the impacted areas must ask themselves if a natural disaster of such proportions can happen again during their lifetime.

It’s unlikely, in my opinion, that the forces of nature will again lin up in such a remarkable fashion to cause a repeat of Florence. However, flood experts contend that if it happens once, it can most certainly happen again.

That puts flood victims in quite a quandary.

The options are limited.

Depending on the severity of the damage caused by the flood, some people might decide it is practical to fix their homes or rebuild in the same location.

I think there are some parts of Conway and the county where that makes sense.

People who choose that route should definitely buy flood insurance to help minimize future flooding risks.

Others may tough it out and wait two or three years for a buyout offer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is a very slow process. At best, FEMA will pay about 75 percent of the fair market value of a building. That’s a tough pill to swallow for people who have built equity in their homes, or, for those who still have a big mortgage to pay.

I suppose flood victims could also consider trying to sell their homes at a price higher than FEMA can offer.

Unfortunately, housing prices for homes that have flooded will almost certainly be deflated.

Frankly, none of the options listed here are attractive.

If nothing else, perhaps the predicament flood victims find themselves in will serve as a wakeup call for others.

We’re in a flood-prone county. Buyer beware!

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Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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