42 Rutledge

The owner of 42 Rutledge Ave. was the first of a spate of recent Charleston homeowners to seek permission to raise their house to protect it against future flooding. File/Robert Behre/Staff

The city of Charleston has received about a half-dozen requests from downtown homeowners seeking to raise their home's elevation to guard against future flooding — and there could be many more to come.

Meanwhile, the city will hold two public meetings Thursday to talk to homeowners concerned about flooding and give them insight into government programs and grants that might help them.

Also Thursday, the city's Board of Architectural Review-Small, which covers small building project requests, will consider a proposal to elevate homes at 190 Tradd St. and 78 Murray Blvd., the latter of which might be the city's first elevation of a brick-clad home.

Winslow Hastie of the Historic Charleston Foundation said the preservation group has been supportive of such efforts and said the owners have been thoughtful and deliberate.

"We have to be deferential to these property owners who have suffered time and time again," he said. "Their willingness to spend the money on these significant projects, I don’t know if ‘celebrated’ is the right word, but we should be happy people are willing to do that. Ultimately, it’s what’s best for these buildings.”

City Resiliency Director Mark Wilbert and other city officials will meet with residents from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Bees Ferry Recreation Center and again from 6-8 p.m. at the Charleston Museum Auditorium.

Wilbert said each session will try to educate residents about the three kinds of Federal Emergency Management Agency grants that address flooding, as well as FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program and city-related efforts.

"Consider this public outreach, public education," he said.

The sessions are a response to concerns from residents such as Susan Lyons, who has had flood damage at her Gadsden Street home three times in as many years. She began Groundswell, a loosely organized group of a few hundred flood victims who formed after Tropical Storm Irma hit last fall.

"I had to replace the ducts three times underneath my house, but other people had it far worse," Lyons said, adding she expects to learn more about her options at Thursday's meeting.

Groundswell was formed to give flood victims a voice and to urge the city and others to pay more attention and put more money toward addressing it.

Hastie said many downtown homeowners are watching the fate of the first seeking to elevate their homes.

"If these move through quite uneventfully, there could be more, many more," he said.

In the fall, the city convened a group of architects, preservationists and residents to talk about the challenges of raising a historic homes while keeping their aesthetic and curb appeal. The group is expected to meet again soon to discuss a new set of guidelines for such moves.

Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771. Follow him on Twitter @RobertFBehre.