Inaugural Speech recognizes Office as a result of S.C. Floodwater Commission findings
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Governor Henry Dargan McMaster, the 117th governor of South Carolina, was sworn in for his second full term as the Palmetto State’s chief executive, Wednesday, January 11, on the steps of the S.C. State House in Columbia. As such, once he completes his final full term, McMaster will become the longest-serving governor in S.C. history.
McMaster first assumed the office of governor in January 2017 when then-Gov. Nikki Haley resigned to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster had then served as lieutenant governor since 2014. He won a full four-year term in 2018 and was then reelected in 2022.
In his second inaugural speech, McMaster highlighted the notable accomplishments and on-track goals of his administration including the largest cut in state income tax in S.C. history, a record $10 billion in capital investments, a reformed formula for school funding, and a new cabinet agency: The Office of Resilience.
Born of findings and recommendations made in 2019 by the S.C. Floodwater Commission, the Office of Resilience was established “to increase resilience to disasters and reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of loss of life, injury, damage to and loss of property, and suffering and hardship, by lessening the impact of future disasters.”
The Office of Resilience is directed by Chief Resilience Officer Ben Duncan
The S.C. Floodwater Commission, which McMaster established and tapped energy-environmental expert Dr. Tom Mullikin to chair in 2018, revealed the need for a resilience agency in the Commission’s lengthy report to the Governor the following year.
“We recently created a new cabinet agency, the Office of Resilience, which adopted findings of our Floodwater Commission,” McMaster said in his 2023 inaugural speech. “Its purposes include measuring our strengths and weaknesses concerning flooding, erosion and the conditions of our rivers, coast and barrier islands; and to mitigate, accommodate and respond to flooding; and also to coordinate efforts of economic and natural resilience with governmental and non-governmental entities.”
McMaster’s speech continued: “Vigorous economic growth and the preservation of our shared natural heritage and environment are not opposing objectives which must be balanced as in a competition, one against the other. Instead, they are complementary, intertwined, and inseparable, each dependent on the other. Each can be accomplished to the fullest if we plan now and be bold.
“The question today is: Will anyone recognize South Carolina in 100 years? Will we allow our state’s culturally and environmentally significant structures, monuments, lands, islands, and waterways to be lost forever – to over-development, mismanagement, flooding, erosion or from storm damage? Or will we preserve and protect our history and our environment, and the public’s access to them? This is our moment to act, while we still can. And of course, to preserve these great resources and to realize our full economic and educational potentials, the first duty of government is to keep South Carolinians safe…”
Throughout the Floodwater Commission’s 2019 report, resilience was a guiding principle, with frequent references for a need to improve resilience, advance resilience, build resilience, and increase resilience.
– Pictured (L-R) are Governor Henry McMaster, Mrs. Virginia Ann Mullikin, First Lady Peggy McMaster, and Dr. Tom Mullikin.