Flooding

Charleston County is no stranger to flooding, such as last October's flooding on Folly Beach (above). A new set of map revisions could affect how much residents pay in flood insurance.  Staff/file 

Charleston County is getting new flood maps that ultimately will affect what property owners may build and what their flood insurance will cost.

But at this point, there are more questions than answers.

The answers will start raining down on March 20, when county officials hold the first of three public workshops with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

During these sessions, residents can look at the new preliminary flood maps and ask experts how they might affect their property as far as flood insurance, engineering and building permits. They also may provide their street address to see how the maps affect that property, and the specific answer will be sent to them at a later date.

The maps were redrawn with better technology and more updated information on recent construction, said Carl Simmons, director of the Charleston County Building Inspection Services.

By law, federally regulated or insured mortgage lenders require flood insurance on properties in areas at high risk of flooding. Some property owners who currently are required to buy flood insurance might find that's no longer the case with the new maps, while others will discover that their property is now in a flood zone.

"We think there will be more going in than out," Simmons said, but it's unclear how many property owners will see their elevations change in a meaningful way. Also, the new maps aren't expected to become official until late 2018 or early 2019.

The meetings will be held on March 20, from 2-7 p.m., in council chambers, 4045 Bridge View Drive in North Charleston; March 21, from 3-7 p.m., at C.E. Williams Middle School, 640 Butte St. in West Ashley; and March 22, from 2-7 p.m. at Alhambra Hall, 131 Middle St. in Mount Pleasant.

Charleston County Building Services also has a new hotline for questions: 843-202-6957. Callers are asked to leave a message with their question and contact information.