City of Charleston officials and legislators talk lessons learned from Tropical Storm Elsa

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Tropical Storm Elsa hit the peninsula Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, leaving damage and flooding across downtown Charleston. Now, as cleanup comes to a close, officials look to the next storms that could make their way to the Lowcountry. This, as legislators discuss how they believe the City of Charleston did and how an infrastructure plan could better the next outcome.

City officials telling News 2 that Elsa was a good dress rehearsal for what is already shaping up to be an active hurricane season.

Shannon Scaff, the Emergency Management Director for the City of Charleston says Elsa is “just a reminder that we really need to pay attention to where we are at right now and those plans need to be put in place now so that once August and September roll around, we’re ready.”

Scaff says he is proud of both the city’s team and the citizens for their response to Elsa, but he says with so many having recently moved to the Lowcountry—he believes some could still learn.

The main area he says new residents need to understand most is water. Scaff says ultimately, water is the main killer with hurricanes and those in the city needs to keep that in mind. 

“I think 3 vehicles that were ultimately stuck in the crosstown area and stalled out…of course, this is a time to remind everyone that when you see high water, as we’ve said many many times please don’t risk it.”

For U.S. Representative Nancy Mace, she says Elsa’s presence in the Lowcountry was also a reminder that the greater Charleston area needs an infrastructure bill in their favor.

She says that the infrastructure package that she would support won’t pay for things like art and sculptures when she says issues, particularly with the environment and flooding are so prevalent.

We’ve got to make sure we are putting infrastructure first, truly.  


Mace says from the estimates she’s read, it would cost 2 million dollars to tackle only the issue of flooding downtown. She says she is looking for creative and bipartisan ways to fund what she calls necessary improvements.

“My pitch to congress is to do this with unspent covid relief funds. Whether you’re talking about 500 billion, a trillion, 2 trillion, the money is there to have an expansive, historic spending on infrastructure without raising taxes,” says Mace.

Scaff says that while the city’s plans did prove effective. He agrees with Mace in that more can be done to build on what has already been done and continue to improve the Lowcountry’s infrastructure.

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