Charleston Co. sees decrease in flood threat for homes under new maps

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources say the number of homes in Charleston County in threat of flooding has decreased.

The information was released Monday during an open house for homeowner about the new County flood maps.

"We took in the new topographic information that's created from LIDAR, that a lot of people have heard about," said Maria Cox Lamm, CFM for SC DNR. "We also created a new surge model for the entire coastline of South Carolina. Then we [considered] any new engineering based on requests from the local governments and the County."

The last time Charleston County updated its flood maps was in 2004.

Now more than ten years later homeowners in the County have the chance to find out how mother nature may affect their homes in the future.

"I went from an AE 12 to an AE 11," said Alan Laughlin, of James Island.

Laughlin said the threat level to his James Island home decreased by a small margin. He said in the 55 years he's lived there he's never had to deal with flooding.

"The ground gets a little moisture when you walk on it, but that's the sand," he said. "As far as the water coming up into the yard, it hasn't even gotten out of the ditch yet."

"We have more parcels being removed from the special flood hazard area than we have going in," Cox Lamm said.

While the overall majority of flood zones have decreased, North Charleston officials said areas near the Dorchester County line have seen increases in the number of homes added to the flood zone. This includes neighborhoods like Pepperhill, and Forest Hills which saw extreme flooding in 2015 and 2016.

"We'll probably fall under the new flood zone," said a Pepperhill resident. "I've never had an issue in the 40 years in this house until two years ago."

North Charleston officials said roughly 10 more houses along Peppercorn Lane were added to the new flood zone. However, the new maps were created more last two years ago before the historic flood and Hurricane Matthew.

"We took in anything prior to that." Cox Lamm said. "We are prepared to answer those questions as well, and provide information as far as if they're having issues with an insurance claim, still from 2016."

However, some people aren't sure how they feel about these new flood maps.

"The whole plan is a little big overprotective for the people," Laughlin said. "That's more or less to overprotect the insurance companies."

"I think it's a way to put more money in the insurance providers' pockets," said another Charleston County resident.

"They have the opportunity to talked with insurance experts to see what would be the best option for their family," Cox Lamm said.

Cox Lamm added these maps are not set in stone right now. There will be a 90-day appeal period for the new flood maps. This gives homeowners the chance to submit issues they may have with the map. DNR officials will then review the paperwork and determine if it's a valid appeal.

From there the maps will move into a six-month compliance period where local governments will have the chance to adopt the maps and include it into their ordinances.

The County will host two more open house meetings this week for homeowners to get their information.

City of Charleston, March 21:

CE Williams Middle School (640 Butte Street) from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Mount Pleasant, March 22:

Alhambra Hall (131 Middle Street) from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Homeowners are also able to view the new flood zone maps online here.

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