More than half of Charleston County’s critical infrastructure at risk of failure

A new report says that flooding is posing major risks for Charleston County and surrounding...
A new report says that flooding is posing major risks for Charleston County and surrounding areas.(Live 5)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 3:27 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 3:38 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A new report says 25% of U.S. critical infrastructure like hospitals and police stations are at risk of failure because of flooding, and the percentage doubles for Charleston County alone, according to a report by the First Street Foundation.

“We know that oceans and the atmosphere are warming. This warming is causing ice to melt in Antarctica and Greenland, and it’s causing the ocean to warm and expand,” NOAA Oceanographer William Sweet said. “We know the land is sinking in Charleston, to some extent which is exacerbating the sea level rise problem. That same warming, uh, is fueling stronger storms.”

With stronger storms come more damaging floods, according to experts.

The city of Charleston and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a solution earlier this week in the form of a $1.1 billion sea wall to combat sea rise and storm surge.

Project developers with the proposed plan say the 12-foot wall could decrease the risk sea rise and flooding poses to the city’s critical infrastructure.

The report from over 50% of Charleston County’s critical infrastructure which includes hospitals, airports, and fire and police departments, are at risk of failure because of threats that come with flooding.

The report also states 50% of all facilities and services overall are operationally vulnerable to flood risks and 45% of roads are seeing the same threats of being rendered unusable.

Sweet says the wall can help, but there are several other things that go into building a wall like this.

“It can work, absolutely. There are a host of other measures that need to go in to fortify the wall, right? Backfilling elevations, preventing stormwater and groundwater infiltration and surfacing. You know, again, lower elevations are going to be at greater risk,” Sweet said. “One could say that Charleston is one of the more affected areas right now, and the decisions that they make and the path that they choose to move forward will really be watched by others to learn from their successes.”

The plan from the Army Corps of Engineers still needs to be studied further and approved by the city. It would then need to be authorized and funded by Congress, which could happen next year, officials with the Army Corps said.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.