Thursday’s second editorial renews our call for the U.S. Senate to exempt temporary pool enclosures from flood plain regulations:
For 30 years or more, Myrtle Beach hotels happily offered tourists the opportunity to swim year-round in pools enclosed for the winter by temporary structures. After decades of not having any issues with the practice, the Federal Emergency Management Agency noticed in 2007 and warned the city the practice violated federal flood regulations.
Complying with the rule since has cost Myrtle Beach some time and effort as city employees took time to monitor these structures and city lawyers filed a lawsuit to compel hotels to comply with the FEMA regulations. The city has done all it can the last few years, stuck in a tight spot between the interests of its hospitality base and federal regulations. It made the wise decision to show FEMA that it is doing all it can to enforce these rules, as nonsensical as they might be, to avoid putting the entire city’s flood insurance at risk.
The city’s efforts have made some difference. “There are now fewer than 10 properties not in compliance,” city spokesman Mark Kruea said Wednesday, down from more than 30. Coming into compliance has cost some hotels up to $20,000, however. The city’s suit is scheduled to head to court in January, and other properties are still waiting, probably hoping that Congress will change the rule this session.
U.S. Rep. Tim Scott has helped get that effort started, pushing through an exemption from the rule that could spare the city and hotels more money and time. The House passed the exemption Tuesday as part of its flood insurance bill, which now heads to the Senate. The rule change would allow the structures to be put up outside of hurricane season, barring them only from June 1 to Nov. 30. This solution makes sense, providing protection against the worst that nature has to offer while still allowing hotels to draw pool-loving tourists in the winter months.
FEMA’s worry is that a hard storm would blow these hard structures over and damage buildings, but as Myrtle Beach City Manager Tom Leath said last year, “We’re hard-pressed to remember a nor’easter that came through and did the damage that they’re concerned about.”
We’re grateful to Scott for pushing through this exemption and hopeful that our senators will continue the effort in the Senate. With luck, this nuisance may end this year, allowing the city to save its money and time for more important matters and allowing local hotels to get back to offering tourists the best experience possible