Do South Carolina’s Coastal Cities Have Increased Flooding Risk?

Do you know how flood zone changes affect the SC coastline? Find out which coastal cities will be impacted and what you can do to protect your home from water damage.

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In South Carolina, coastal flooding is not just a weather problem. It’s a personal problem that affects your home’s value and its livability. 

Past data shows that flooding affects homes along the South Carolina coast, in the Lowcountry, and along the South Carolina waterways. However, the geography of flooding is changing. NOAA reports that sea levels have risen between eight and nine inches since 1880. This translates to a larger land area that’s at risk for flood damage. 

As a result of these ongoing changes, more South Carolina homeowners could be at risk of flood damage. 

Coastal Flooding Is Increasing in South Carolina

Flooded roads and homes have become a familiar sight in Charleston and other coastal cities. Data shows that these flood events are happening much more frequently. 

In Charleston, minor floods used to occur about eight times per year between 1953 and 2000. However, in the past decade, these floods have occurred an average of 41 times per year.

Even as the current flooding situation presents enormous challenges, projections show that the problem will worsen over time. In the years to come, South Carolina homeowners could be looking at a much different flood map. 

According to Climate Central, in just 50 years, the barrier islands along the South Carolina coast will be almost entirely within annual flood zones. Moderate predictions show these annual floods will extend far inland along the rivers, marshes, and low-lying areas. 

Find out when your home will be at flood levels by using Climate Central’s interactive coastal flooding map.

Where Are Flood Zones Changing the Fastest?

Changes to flood risk maps are happening in cities across the country. Data shows that nationwide flood conditions are occurring between three and nine times more frequently than just 50 years ago. 

For homes in a flood zone, this could be more frequent and more severe floods. Additionally, homes that previously didn’t have water problems now have an increased threat of flood damage.

Our analysis reveals that the most severe flood changes are happening in cities along the Gulf, on the west coast, in the northeast, and along waterways in the Midwest.

South Carolina homeowners could be facing flood risks

U.S. Cities with the Greatest Increase in Flood Risk

  • Chicago, IL
  • Cape Coral, FL
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Port Charlotte, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Pensacola, FL
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • Fort Myers, FL
  • Naples, FL
  • Key West, FL
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Corpus Christi, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • Galveston, TX

How Many South Carolina Homes Will Be at Risk of Flooding?

In just 80 years, many of South Carolina’s coastal cities could have regular flooding in a large percentage of homes. Using coastal data from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a report for 24/7 Wall Street made the following estimates about the impact of flooding on coastal populations. 

Population at Risk of Regular Flooding Within 80 Years

  • Hilton Head Island, SC: 59%
  • James Island, SC: 54%
  • Mount Pleasant, SC: 45%
  • St. Helena Island, SC: 41%
  • Waccamaw Neck, SC: 38%
  • Charleston, SC: 36%
  • West Ashley, SC: 29%

These figures include older homes that were previously outside of flood areas. But new home construction is also contributing to the risk. In fact, South Carolina is one of the worst states for new homes being built within flood zones. 

A report by Climate Central and Zillow found that in South Carolina, new homes being built in 10-year flood zones are about double the growth rate of new homes built in safer areas. In Charleston County alone, there are 761 new homes in 10-year flood zones that have a total market value of about $865 million. 

Between tidal flooding, sea-level rise, increased rainfall, and severe hurricanes, these homes could see a slow decay from ongoing flood damage, or a big storm could destabilize the structure in an instant. 

Protecting Your Home Against Floodwaters

A flood prevention checklist can help you prepare your home before a big storm and develop long-term strategies for protecting your property against pervasive water threats. You can avoid flood damage and protect your home with these six home improvements: 

Home water management is a smart way to avoid the cost and disruption of a flood. FEMA estimated that just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage to a home. To offset potential damages, insurance companies may require modifications such as flood vents. Your insurance company may even contribute $1,000 to flood mitigation systems such as a sump pump.

If you’re concerned about your home’s flood risk, be sure to seek the advice of local waterproofing experts. Mount Valley Foundation Services offers free inspections to help homeowners understand how to mitigate their flood risk and protect their homes from flood damage.

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