November 2019

A Note from Our Mayors - November 2019

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai, M.Kat Photography

Commission Preparing for Proactive Approach to Flooding in Coastal Communities
As we come off the heels of Hurricane Dorian, I’m reminded of the precautions we need to take to manage flooding. A heavy rain can drench our roads and create deep pockets of water. Such flooding is one of the concerns residents in the historic Stoney community have, particularly as we look at road improvements for that area. When it rains hard, the causeway between that community and Jenkins Island can be overtaken by so much water that you can row a small dinghy across it.

Flooding is not only a concern for Hilton Head Island, but for the entire state. Communities across the state are faced with millions of dollars’ worth of damage to property and infrastructure in the wake of recent major flooding events and nuisance flooding in coastal communities. This prompted Governor Henry McMaster to organize the South Carolina Floodwater Commission, made up of mayors from coastal communities including Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, and the chairmen of our respective county councils for Beaufort County, Horry County and Charleston County. Councilman Tom Lennox has been attending commission meetings on behalf of the town to ensure our concerns are expressed and to be part of the discussion on ways we can collaboratively address future flooding events.

The purpose of the commission is to identify potential short-term and long-term mitigation solutions for low-lying and coastal areas and areas along the state’s rivers that are at risk of experiencing flooding. The commission just released a draft of its report that highlights the challenges coastal communities face and proposes strategies.

Commissioners determined communities need to be more resilient as they face future challenges with flooding. We have a tendency to react to flooding events. We feel our communities should be better positioned to respond proactively to future floods, rising sea levels and other natural occurrences. We are evaluating how we can coordinate our response efforts between communities, businesses and government agencies.

Educating the public about flood zones, how these categories could affect their lives and properties, and measures they should consider for protection is a key part of dealing with disasters. A survey of one South Carolina community hit hard by flooding in recent years showed that 55 percent of 303 respondents had sustained property damage from flooding over the past 10 years. But only 11 percent had flood insurance; some respondents said they didn’t think they needed it. I’m sure the responses would be different in a place like Hilton Head Island. Our Community Development Department regularly informs the public, through a number of strategies, about the resources they should have in place to protect their property and recover from potential damages caused by disasters.

Locally, the town is looking at issues that affect our environment and infrastructure as part of the “Our Plan” process for the rewrite of our state-mandated comprehensive plan. Ways in which we deal with natural events such as rising sea levels, flooding and other disasters are part of discussions taking place in this process.
Major storms are becoming more frequent in South Carolina, according to the experts advising the commission. Our ability as coastal communities to deal with the impact of these storms depends on how well prepared we are across the state and how effective we can be at distributing resources when needed.

John McCann is the mayor of Hilton Head Island.

It’s time to plan for the Bluffton christmas parade
Believe it or not, it’s time to start planning for Bluffton’s annual Christmas Parade. With more than 200 entries in the parade, the sooner you plan and fill out the application, the easier it for your organization to build your float and for town staff to coordinate the countless details to make this annual event happen.

The annual parade is always the first Saturday in December, rain or shine. It begins at 10 a.m., December 7.

The Bluffton Christmas Parade begins at the corner of Bridge and Pritchard Streets. Parade participants will make their way along the parade route and end in Bluffton Park at the corner of Pin Oak Street and 8th Avenue.
This is a free event for all who enter. It is the town’s gift to the community. All you have to do is sign up on the Town of Bluffton website: Please apply before November 27 at the close of business. Streets close at 8 a.m., so please have your float entries and all your participants in your assigned staging area by 8 a.m. Once you apply, Town staff members will have your email and will communicate with you about the rules, assigned staging areas and other tips.

For more than 50 years, Blufftonians and their guests line the streets of Old Town to cheer their neighbors, laugh at the eccentric and eclectic entertainment and celebrate the kick-off to the Christmas season.

Don’t forget to also mark your calendars for the Friday, December 6 Tree-Lightning at DuBois Park located at 67 Lawrence Street. The Tree-Lighting begins at 5:30 p.m. I, along with other Town Council members, will announce the grand marshal of the Bluffton Christmas Parade; an elementary school chorus will sing; and town leaders will light the Bluffton Christmas tree. Afterwards, cookies and refreshments will be served under the DuBois Park Pavilion where Santa and Mrs. Claus will make a pre-Christmas visit.

Last year, a couple got engaged, illuminated by the lights of the beautiful Bluffton Christmas tree as their backdrop; so you never know what the magic of the season can bring!

To keep the parade running smoothly, keep in mind a few guidelines: tractor trailers are not permitted in the parade; float trailers cannot be more than 13 feet high (measured from the ground); be mindful of decoration heights due to low-lying tree limbs along the parade route; T-shirt launchers (or any other type of cannon/firing devices) are not allowed.

This is a wonderful event and, as always, we look forward to a fun, festive parade celebrating our community spirit.

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