It has been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Florence dumped record amounts of rain on Horry County and, to date, no meaningful attempts have been made by county officials to combat the resulting mosquitoes.
It’s not like all the water that Florence dumped on the area was a big surprise. For at least a week before the storm made landfall, predictions of 20 plus inches of rain throughout the county were the norm.
Yet, the county remained unprepared to combat the intense breeding of mosquitoes that accompanies the rain and continued flooding we have experienced since the storm.
According to two sources with knowledge of the county’s mosquito spraying program, as late as yesterday there were only enough chemicals on hand to spray five percent (5%) of the total acreage in Horry County. Those sources said an order for more chemicals was recently placed, but when the county receives that order it will cover only 40-50 percent of total county acreage.
It’s not like the county does not have the money to pay for more chemicals. According to information provided to GSD, the county maintains a $30 million contingency fund expressly for expenses associated with disaster recovery.
And, money the county spends for things like mosquito spraying resulting from a declared state of emergency situation is recoverable from FEMA. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered $4 million from state funds to pay for mosquito spraying in the 27 North Carolina counties affected by Hurricane Florence.
In addition, the county’s efforts at stormwater management have been lacking as we have seen from the number of sub-divisions and other areas that routinely flood during heavy rains. Did those responsible for stormwater management imagine we wouldn’t suffer serious flooding in many areas from Florence? The stormwater management department of the county is also responsible and funded for mosquito spraying, but it has chosen to spend funds on items other than mosquito control chemicals and spraying in the past few years.
According to several county council members I have spoken to, complaints are pouring in from citizens about the growing mosquito population in all areas of the county. Citizens are questioning why the county isn’t already conducting aerial spraying to combat the increasing mosquito hoard.