Community Member

Rosewood Strong

Socastee, South Carolina

Flooding in Rosewood, South Carolina.

What would you do if you bought a brand new house, and without any warning, it started to flood every year, sometimes several times in one year? Or what about several times over five years? Welcome to the Rosewood Estates neighborhood of Socastee, South Carolina. The estates are along the Intracoastal Waterway, not on a floodplain or on a river. But that’s not the way it feels.

Flooding takes a toll. Repetitive flooding is an unending nightmare. In 2020, Terri Straka described what it’s like:

“‘You don’t know what to do. Even just daily functioning. You can’t get anything accomplished. You need to work, you need to take care of your family, and you can’t.’ Straka has gotten to the point where she worries even if it simply rains.”

Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016 and that seems to be when the trouble started. Matthew was torturously slow-moving, and sent water levels to heights never seen. An estimate of 10-15 inches of rain came into an area that again, is not a floodplain. 

Terri Straka of Rosewood Strong talks to Harriet Festing about flooding and residents’ urgent need to have their homes bought out.

That’s when Rosewood Strong came together. Led by Terri Straka and Melissa Krupa, Rosewood Strong is a grassroots organization of flood survivors who found they had to advocate for themselves to get help, because the authorities didn’t seem to respond. 

Then it happened again. Two years later, it was Hurricane Florence. This time floodwaters nearly reached the roofs of some Rosewood homes with 20 inches of rain. Since then the floods have been nonstop.

It was incredible to Terri, Melissa, and the residents of Socastee that the water kept coming, people were going through their savings and sanity just to survive, working hard to rebuild, only to see more flooding and rebuilding again. Their health was jeopardized and no one came to help. What was nearly as bad to Terri was, “They also say they have a plan and funds put aside for a buyout or elevations. But they won’t finish the process. And hurricane season has begun.”

In 2020, flooding came even without hurricanes, in February and again in June. Nearly 60 homes were flooded with water pouring in from a crested river, flowing into the Intracoastal waterway. In an interview with WBTW, Terri expressed her exasperation. “We are hard-working people, we don’t have the money to sustain this over and over again so where do we go, what do we do? We need help.” 

Terri Straka and other Rosewood Strong members outside their City Hall advocating for buyouts in 2020.

What Rosewood Strong did was get stronger and louder. In July 2020, the local government found them outside their offices, with megaphones and signs and an extraordinary amount of news coverage. After everything they had been through, Melissa wanted people to understand what they were asking for: “That’s all we are asking for is support. We are not asking you to do some crazy thing or put out a crazy amount of money. We are just asking you to interact and support us.”

Their persistence paid off. In early 2021, Horry County received nearly $15.6 million in federal grants for flood mitigation activities, with over $13 million of it dedicated to relocating repeat flood victims in Socastee. These funds will buy out 60 homes that have been damaged, demolish them and use the land for green infrastructure. Town meetings, with Rosewood Strong attending, are taking place to determine how the funds will be distributed. Nature is taking Rosewood states back and the residents will hopefully soon be on higher ground and not have to be afraid of the sound of rain. 

Coverage of Terri Straka on WMBF News.

Written by Michele Gielis


Flooding drives millions to move as climate migration patterns emerge, AP, December 2023

How One Woman Became the Voice for Her Neighborhood’s Flood Survivors
A grandmother helps her South Carolina community move forward, Pew Trusts Profile, June 2023

‘It’s like a death:’ What it’s like to leave one flood-prone community, The Washington Post, Oct. 2022

Trapped in harm’s way as disasters mount, The Center for Public Integrity, Aug. 2022

Uprooted: As the Climate Crisis Forces U.S. Residents to Relocate, a New Conversation Emerges, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, by Alexandra Tempus, July 2022

Adapting to Chronic Flooding: Survivors’ Stories and Actions they Take! America Adapts Podcast by Doug Parsons, June 7, 2022

As U.S. flooding worsens, South Carolina redraws risk maps, Thomson Reuters Foundation, News, May 24, 2002

Horry County’s buyout for flooded homes is shifting, listening to market and homeowners, ABC 15 News, WPDE, March 24, 2022

Flood survivors waiting years for help from FEMA, ABC Action News WFTS Tampa Bay, March 24, 2022

‘It’s kind of effortless’: Rosewood residents begin flood buyout process with in-person enrollment sessions, July 13, 2021

As Socastee buyout program takes shape, Horry County flood victims weigh options, My Horry News, March 26, 2021

‘I’m happy’: Horry County to receive $13M for Socastee community flood relocation program, WMBF News, March 9. 2021

VIDEO: Recent rain brings flooding once again to Rosewood neighborhood in Socastee, WMBF News, February 24, 2021

Rosewood residents protest county over flooding, mitigation plans, WBTW 13 News, July 6, 2020

‘You can’t leave a handful of people out here’: Rosewood flooding concerns escalate, WBTW News, June 8, 2020

‘I am just so over it’: Rosewood residents dealing with flooding yet again,  WMBF News, June 2, 2020

‘A somber silence’: Flooding has become routine for Socastee’s Rosewood community, Myrtle Beach Online, February 18, 2020

Homeowners will soon be required to report past FEMA claims to buyers, Disaster Legal aid, January 3, 2020

‘Nature is going to take it back’: Some Horry residents pack up after constant flooding, Insurance News net, February 1, 2019


Michele Gielis

Michele Gielis

Michele has spent the last decade helping nonprofits raise their voice for change. She looks to make action meaningful by connecting people to the technology and messages that bring resonance and resilience. Michele is proud to support the Anthropocene Alliance working to get communities to #HigherGround


Terri Straka

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Elevation or Relocation of Homes, Halting Bad Development, Nature-Based Solutions

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