Tuesday saw sun come to South Carolina, but the damage has already been done,and there may be more to come. Flooding that was the result of days of nonstop, record-breaking rainfall devastated the Palmetto State, especially the capital city of Columbia, and the coastal city of Charleston. Several towns in the middle of the state were hit hard as well. The flooding has proved deadly, with a reported 15 people dead.
The truly sad part of what appears to be a natural disaster is the fact that it would never have been this devastating if the state’s infrastructure were not in complete disrepair. According the the 2013 South Carolina Infrastructure overview report, there are 1,048 structurally deficient bridges, and the funds to do spot repairs did not come from the state; no, $47.10 million came from the federal government. In addition to that atrocity, the real kicker is the dams, which were breached,causing these deadly floods.
Ninety percent of the dams regulated by the state are in such terrible shape that they qualify for an emergency action plan, and there are 162 high hazard dams. Further, there needs to be $1.6 billion in drinking water infrastructure repairs within the next two decades.
Why is South Carolina in such bad shape? Well, because it’s run by the Republican Party. South Carolina has been solid red for as far back in history as the eye can see, and the GOP hates investing in infrastructure.There are many reasons for this, but, at the top of that list is the fact that they are bound to their corporate masters, working tirelessly to secure tax cuts for the rich and tax breaks for corporations, without any plan to make up the lost income that should have gone to pay for infrastructure improvements.
This is a way for them to cut deep corners, because the ultimate goal for the GOP and the corporate puppet masters they serve is to privatize America’s infrastructure. So, to that end, the infrastructure in red states deteriorates into the realm of being dangerously hazardous. Therefore, when a disaster like this happens, they beg the federal government for money because the crumbling infrastructure can’t handle it. They point to the crisis that they are responsible for and offer privatization as the quick-fix.
What’s more is the fact that it shows what utter hypocrites they really are, as while South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is now begging for money his state, he also voted against relief funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy – but now “can’t remember” why he voted that way.
At the end of the day, the failure of Republican governance has come back to haunt them and their citizens. As weather patterns become more intense and less predictable, it is of the utmost importance that we take drastic steps to improve our nation’s ailing infrastructure and transportation networks. It is critical if we are to preserve the lives of our citizens and our national security.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.