Colleton County provides several important services to residents and businesses within the Special Flood Hazard Areas (Zones A, AE and VE) as identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- Annual Flood Prevention Information – The County releases information such as property protection measures, flood safety information, etc. that can be used to help protect yourself and your property against flooding.
- Participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) Program – The CRS program rates the County based on outreach projects and activities, enforcement of construction regulations pertaining to flood damage prevention, and participation in the Lowcountry Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. Based on this rating, residents can receive a reduction in their annual flood insurance premiums. The County is currently rated as a Class 7 community; therefore, residents receive a 15% premium reduction.
- Participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) - Participation in the NFIP makes it possible for property owners to obtain federally backed flood insurance.
- Map Determinations - The County responds to verbal and written inquiries regarding flood zones and base flood elevations for properties located in Colleton County.
- Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) – These maps are created by FEMA and used to determine the base flood elevation. These are available for public view or can be purchased from FEMA through their Map Service Center.
- Elevation Certificates - These are maintained on file by Colleton County and are required to be submitted for all structures built in Special Flood Hazard Areas.
- Coastal Resilience Map - https://maps.coastalresilience.org/southcarolina/
Two types of flooding occur in Colleton County: localized flooding; and, flooding from rising water caused by storms. Localized flooding is caused by blocked drainage systems or inadequate drainage facilities. Storm flooding is due to rising water caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. This type of flooding may also have wave action which could exert velocity impact forces against structures located in Coastal High Hazard areas (VE flood zones). The most recent heavy flood events in the County were caused by heavy rains during July of 2013. Maximum flood stage during the summer was 14.2 feet at Givhan’s Ferry. Flood stage at that location is 10 feet.
Know Your Flood Hazard
Coastal and Localized
Two types of flooding occur in Colleton County: localized flooding; and, flooding from rising water caused by storms. Localized flooding is caused by blocked drainage systems or inadequate drainage facilities. Storm flooding is due to rising water caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. This type of flooding may also have wave action which could exert velocity impact forces against structures located in Coastal High Hazard areas (VE flood zones).
The most recent heavy flood events in the County were caused by heavy rains during July of 2013. Maximum flood stage during the summer was 14.2 feet at Givhan’s Ferry. Flood stage at that location is 10 feet.
Insure Your Property
Standard Property Insurance Policies Do Not Cover Losses Due to Floods
Colleton County is a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which make it possible for County property owners to obtain federally backed flood insurance. This insurance is available to any owner of insurable property (building or contents). Tenants can obtain coverage for their personal property, even if the owner does not buy structural coverage on the building. Flood insurance is affordable and is available no matter what your risk. The County urges all personals who live or own property in high-risk flood hazard areas (AE and VE flood zones) to purchase flood insurance to protect themselves from flood loses. Even those located in low-to-moderate-risk areas should carry coverage. High-risk area homes have a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood over the life of a 30 year mortgage. Nearly 1 in 4 flood insurance claims are paid on policies in low-to-moderate-risk areas. For more information, call your insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
Protect People From The Hazard
There are several actions residents of flood prone areas can take to decrease the potential of injury due to flooding:
- Know the storm warning systems and monitor local television and radio broadcasts for updates as a storm approaches.
- If you are advised to evacuate, do so promptly.
- Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off all utilities (power, water and gas) at the main disconnects.
- Do not walk through flowing water.
- Avoid driving through a flooded area. If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Stay away from downed power lines and other electrical wires.
- Be alert for gas leaks.
- Look out for animals especially snakes.
- Contact the Colleton County Emergency Preparedness Division at (843) 549-5632, or visit them online for more information.
Permits are required for all types of development in the floodplain, not just for the construction of buildings. These permitting requirements are in place to help control activities which may increase the flood hazard on your property or for a neighboring property. Before you build, fill, or otherwise develop in the floodplain, please contact the Planning Department at (843) 549-1709. Also, if you see construction in the floodplain but not permit sign is posted, please notify Colleton County at the above number.
Information concerning special construction requirements in the floodplain, such as freeboard and flood resistant materials, may be obtained by contacting the Planning Department at the 549-1709 number. In addition, the County’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance is available online.
Substantial Improvements/Substantial Damage Requirements
If your home or business is located in a flood zone and sustains damage or if you are making improvements to the structure and/or the interior of the building, then the County’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance may affect how you rebuild or make improvements. For instance, a building that is “substantially damaged” must be repaired to meet the same construction requirements as a new building, including elevation requirements. “Substantial damage” is damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its pre-damage condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. It is important to note that substantial damage includes damage of any origin, not just flooding. A house that is damaged 50% or more by a fire or tornado must also be brought into compliance with the current flood regulations.
A “substantial improvement” is any repair, reconstruction, alteration, or improvement to a structure, the cumulative cost of which for a five-year period equals or exceeds 50% of the fair market value of the structure either before the start of construction of the improvement, or if the structure has been damaged or is being restored, before the damage occurred. As with substantial damage, buildings that are substantially improved must meet the same construction requirements as new buildings. Note that costs are cumulative for ten years. If, for instance, a structure underwent renovation work six years ago that was equal to 30% of its value and then sustains 25% damage in a storm this year, then the 50% threshold for a ten-year period will have been exceeded and the structure will have to be brought into compliance with the current flood regulations.
The substantial improvement/substantial damage regulations can be complex. If you are planning repair or renovation work on a structure in a flood zone, please contact the Planning Department at (843-549-1709 to determine if your project will be impacted by these regulations. General information on substantial damage/substantial improvement can also be obtained from FEMA’s web site at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/18562.
Drainage System Maintenance
The County has a storm drainage system composed of open ditches and some closed pipe sections. These systems may be owned by Colleton County, the State or private property owners. The systems work together to carry stormwater runoff from homes and roadways to area ponds, creeks and marshes. It is critical to maintain these systems in a high flow capacity to reduce flood occurrences. To accomplish this, the County inspects major ditch systems every 4 to 6 weeks and cleans systems as needed or reported. Residents should take extra care to prevent debris from entering the ditch and piped systems. Blockages or flooded areas can be reported to the County Public Works Department for investigation and cleaning at 843-539-1964..
Protect Natural Floodplain Function
A stream dumping ordinance prohibits littering in the drainage system and in bodies of water. If you know of any unapproved changes to a drainage system (filling, rerouting of streams, nuisances or ditching), please contact the County Floodplain Administrator at 843-549-1709.
Standard homeowner’s policies generally do not cover flood damage. You will need to obtain a separate policy. For flood policy information, contact an insurance agent or go to www.floodsmart.gov. Generally, there is a 30 day waiting period for a flood policy to become effective.
The key document is an Elevation Certificate. It is a form that is filled out by a SC registered surveyor, engineer or architect that states your structure or mobile home is elevated to a minimum height to avoid potential flood damage.
The County’s Flood Prevention Ordinance requires you follow specific construction standards for homes, mobile homes and non-residential structures based on the type of flood zone the property is located. It also applies if you place fill dirt on your property. Generally, residences or mobile homes will have to be elevated from the ground to a minimum height, known as the Base Flood Elevation plus one foot, to reduce flood damage. Non-residential buildings can be elevated or flood-proofed to prevent water from entering. If located in a floodway, you may be limited to what can be constructed or placed on the property. Accessory buildings or sheds are not exempt from flood regulations.
The flood hazard area is land that is likely to be covered by water during a certain flood event (storm) as determined by FEMA. The floodway is land that will be occupied by a moving current of water during a flood event, especially located along rivers and some streams. The floodway is the most dangerous part of a flood hazard area and has significant development limitations.
FEMA publishes maps indicating a county’s flood hazard and the degree of risk of those areas. The maps are available at the Office of Planning & Development, the County Library or by calling FEMA MAPPING at 1-877-336-2627.