Flood Protection/Safety Tips
Local Flood Hazard
- The City of North Charleston is subject to flooding from Atlantic Ocean hurricanes and other storms. The City of North Charleston has experienced many hurricanes resulting in local property damaged being caused by high winds and flood. The most recent events were Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Being prepared is your best line of defense against flooding and other natural disasters.
- The City of North Charleston wants its citizens to be as prepared as possible in the threat of inclement weather that may cause flooding. Publications are available in the Building Inspections Department of North Charleston City Hall, Charleston County Public Libraries, as well as the weather section of the Yellow Pages. These publications include safety tips, evacuation routes and maps, contact information and other web resources.
Flood Safety Tips
Before a Flood
- Check into Flood Insurance: A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover flood-related losses. A separate flood insurance policy is needed to cover flooding. Flood insurance for buildings and/or its contents is available for the City of North Charleston through the National Flood Insurance Program. There is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance policies to take effect. There are a few locations that are considered Coastal Barrier Resource Act protected areas, for which flood insurance is not available through NFIP. Contact the Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Department for more information.
- Develop a family emergency plan: In case family members are separated from one another during a flood, have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person. Make sure each family member knows how to respond. Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water. Teach children how and when to call 911 and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Determine if your property is subject to flooding: Properties subject to flooding are categorized into different types of zones. If your property is located in an “A” Zone, your property is within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and you could experience flooding.
- Check your flood hazard area: You can request site specific information from the local Flood Plain Manager if you are in a SFHA or have experienced a flood. This information includes the flood depth of the first floor and historical information about flooding in the area. The Flood Plain Manager can also make a visit to evaluate your property, review the problem, and explain the most appropriate flood protection measures. If your property is located within the city limits of North Charleston, your Flood Plain Manager is Charles Williams.
Mr. Williams can assist with determining if your property is in the SFHA and to request site specific flood information and site visits. He can be reached Monday-Friday between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm at 843-740-2561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep drainage ditches free of obstruction and debris: The Storm Water Utility Division maintains all City storm drainage systems. The City's storm water crews perform storm drain piping repairs and accomplish storm drainage ditch maintenance and cutting for the ditches within the City's responsibility. They maintain about 120 miles of open drainage ditches, cutting and clearing over 35 miles of artery ditches on a regular basis. By city ordinance, open roadside ditches are the responsibility of the property owner. Keeping drainage channels free of obstruction reduces flooding in the events of heavy rains. Obstructions can be reported to the Storm Water Division of the Department of Public Works by calling 843-745-1026.
- Protect your property from flooding and wind: There a various alternatives available to help minimize flooding. If the floor level of your property is lower than the “Base Flood Elevation,” consider elevating your structure, if possible. Brochures on flood proofing and other measures are available at the Charleston County Public Libraries. If a flood is imminent, your property can be protected by sandbagging areas where water may enter. Attaching plywood over the windows and patio doors will help to protect against high wind damage.
- Have an emergency kit: In case of an emergency like flooding or hurricane, always keep emergency supplies of non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, and a battery operated radio.
During a Flood
- Protect against gas or electric problems: Turn off the electricity and gas at the main disconnect if your property is in danger of flooding.
- Stay alert: Local television and radio stations will broadcast updates and alerts as they are posted by the National Weather Service. If evacuations are required, it is important that you follow instructions. Street patrols and door-to-door notifications may be used if evacuation is mandatory. Questions regarding emergency procedures can be directed to the Charleston County Emergency Preparedness by calling 843-202-7400.
- Avoid driving: Do not attempt to drive or wade through deep pockets of water and avoid unstable banks. Stay away from low-lying areas and seek shelter in the highest areas possible.
After a Flood
- Listen to the radio for emergency instructions and avoiding driving when possible.
- Obtain a licensed contractor for repairs: Contractors must have a valid state contractor’s license including electricians, plumber, gas, mechanical, and building contractors. The contractor should be able to provide proof of their license. You may also contact the Building Inspections Department or the South Carolina Labor, Licensing, and Regulation to verify that the contractor is license or registered.
- Require contractors to obtain permits before work starts: Permits are required for any permanent improvement to a structure. This includes re-roofing, siding, additions, alterations, as well as grading and filling of the site. Permits are required even if the homeowner is performing the work themselves. Questions concerning permits should be directed to the Building Inspections Department. If your property is in floodplain that contains wetland areas, you should contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s office (DHEC). Any disturbance of fresh water wetlands requires a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and certification of DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.
- If the cost of reconstructing, rehabilitating, adding to, or otherwise improving the structure equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s assessed or appraised value then the building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building. These requirements also apply to buildings that are substantially damaged, however, the value used in making the substantial improvement determination is the pre-damage value of the structure.
- Flood Development Permit: All development of a structure that is located in a flood plain also requires a flood development permit. These permits can be obtained at the Building Inspections Department for an administrative fee of $30.00. Any development of a structure in a flood plain that has not been issued a local flood development is illegal. This can be reported directly to the local Flood Plain Manager, Charles Williams by calling 843-740-2561 during normal office hours. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30pm.
If you are advised to evacuate your home and move to temporary location, there are a few things you should remember:
- Follow the instructions and advice of your local government. If you are advised to evacuate, do so promptly. If certain travel routes are specified or recommended, use those routes (Charleston County Evacuation Directions and Map). Once an order is given you may not be allowed to select your route. If you plan to leave, leave early.
- Travel with care.
If you are driving your car to another location, keep in mind it is best to leave early enough to avoid being marooned by flooding roads, fallen trees and wires.
Make sure the gas tank in your car is full and listen to the radio as you travel for additional information and instructions from the government.
Make sure you have a South Carolina highway map in your vehicle.
Evaluate and be prepared to use parallel routes out of the community - this may include smaller roads that run parallel to the interstates and other highways.
If you must travel with more than one vehicle, plan to leave early to avoid traffic.
In advance of leaving your residence, prepare your family Disaster Kit and take it with you in the car.
- When an emergency is declared and an evacuation order is announced, designated shelters are opened by school officials, operated by the Red Cross and announced on local radio and television stations.
- While shelters are available in a hurricane situation, officials urge citizens to use alternative housing options, such as traveling to a friend's or relative's inland home or a motel. And remember, even inland shelters and motels may experience loss of electrical power. Take your Emergency Supplies Kit with you.
- Citizens who do relocate to a shelter are asked to bring blankets and pillows, some food for the first day and any necessary medications and sanitary supplies. It is highly recommended citizens bring their Emergency Supplies Kit.