Politics & Government

S.C. Emergency Management is dependent on federal funding

The South Carolina agency charged with responding to a disaster increasingly is reliant on the federal government for funding.

The U.S. government, a favorite target in this and other conservative states, has quadrupled its funding for the S.C. Emergency Management since the 2005-06 fiscal year, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, raising fears in coastal states about disaster preparedness.

Concerns about coastal preparedness annually rise with the start of South Carolina's hurricane season, which officially starts June 1 but, historically speaking, really begins Aug. 1.

Since Katrina, state funding for Emergency Management has risen from $922,999 to a peak of $2.3 million in 2008-09. However, this fiscal year, which started July 1, state money was cut to $1.37 million. Federal funding, meanwhile, has soared to $18.55 million this year from $4.21 million in 2005-06.

State money accounted for almost 18 percent of Emergency Management's funding in 2005-06. This fiscal year, state money is 6.8 percent.

Federal money to the agency — much of which is passed through to counties — comes with strings: It must be used for specific purposes.

For example, federal money paid for the agency's warehouse of goods and equipment in Fairfield County. Federal money also pays for the hurricane and earthquake guides distributed by the agency each year, and the state's reverse 911 system is paid for through federal grant money.

While some Emergency Management staff members are paid for through federal grants, the agency has seen its staff shrink because state money pays for its day-to-day operations. Like other state agencies, Emergency Management has pruned its staff and left some vacated position open to save money.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.