Everything you need to know about protecting your property from a flood, and flood safety.

Protecting Yourself from a Flood

As residents and visitors alike it is important to remember that Horry County being located in the Atlantic Coastal region, is subject to flooding from the Atlantic Ocean as well as inland flooding from rivers and their tributaries. Being prepared is your best defense against such events. We here in Horry County need to be aware of the natural hazards that can pose a threat to our families and homes. Horry County is not unique in the types of hazards that it faces as issues with flooding are common in most coastal regions. Flooding in Horry County can be caused by several different elements. Each of these elements is outlined briefly below:

  •  Storm surge inundation that is experienced with a direct or indirect hit from a tropical system. As a storm approaches our coast the waves and mean sea level rise and push ashore causing flooding along the coast. In addition the storm surge can affect the levels of the freshwater rivers and waterways in our county which can also lead to flooding.
  •  Heavy Rain is another element that can tribute to flooding. If the rain occurs for long periods or if we have a system that dumps a lot of rain in a short period of time often time we can see localized flooding in certain areas. These types of systems can occur in conjunction with a tropical system or during a weather front that is affecting our area.
  • Wildfire is another issue that could potentially affect flooding in our area. When an area experiences a wildfire the damage can cause a loss of vegetation and top soil, which under normal circumstances helps absorb the rain in that area. In cases where there were abundant losses of foliage; communities can sometime see localized flooding in those areas.

So what can you do to be prepared? Below you will find some additional items to further inform you about ways to protect your family and home.

Know Your Flood Hazard

Find out your flood zone.
  • Are you in the mapped Special Flood Hazard Area or floodway as shown on your FIRM?
  • FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) is the official map of a community on which FEMA has delineated both the special hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.
  • Are you in coastal high hazard area or V Zone as shown on your FIRM?
  • What is an appropriate flood protection level? (How high should you prepare for?)
This information can be obtain by contacting the Horry County Code Enforcement office at 843-915-5090 or by clicking on this link to view the FEMA Flood Maps.
Check out your local drainage situation.
  • Does water flow away from your house or does it tend to stand next to your walls?
  • Is the ditch, stream or storm sewer that takes water away clear of debris or obstructions?
  • Do the downspouts from your roof gutters direct water well away from your house?
  • Do you have a sump pump? If so, does it direct water well away from your house?
Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Horry County Stormwater Management office at 843-915-5160 or by clicking this link to their website.
Find out your storm surge risk.
  • What evacuation zone is your residence located in?
  • What type of risk is your residence in for storm surge?
  • Do you have an evacuation plan?
Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Horry County Emergency Management office at 843-915-5150 or by clicking this link to their website.

Insure Your Property For Your Flood Hazard

Flood insurance
  • Flood insurance is highly recommended. Remember, even if the last storm or flood missed you and even if your home has been flood proofed, the next flood could be worse. Local insurance agents can sell a flood insurance policy under rules and rates set by the Federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Under federal law, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory for all federal or federally related financial assistance for the acquisition and/or construction of buildings in high-risk flood areas (Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs).
  • Any agent can sell a policy and all agents must charge the same rates.
  • Any house can be covered by a flood insurance policy, as long as the community participates in the NFIP. (Yes-Horry County is an NFIP participant)
  • It does not matter if it is in the mapped floodplain or out of it.
  • Detached garages and accessory buildings are covered under the policy for the lot's main building.
Building & Content Coverage
  • Separate coverage can be obtained for the building's structure and for its contents (except for money, valuable papers, and the like).
  • The structure generally includes everything that stays with a house when it is sold, including the furnace, cabinets, built-in appliances, and wall-to-wall carpeting. There is no coverage for things outside the house, like the driveway and landscaping.
  • Renters can buy contents coverage, even if the owner does not buy structural coverage on the building.
  • Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank when they got a mortgage or home improvement loan.
  • If you have a policy, check it closely. You may only have structural coverage (because that's all that banks require).
Basements, split levels and bi-level
  • Flood insurance covers your home's foundation elements and equipment that's necessary to support the structure (for example: furnace, water heaters, circuit breakers, etc.).
  • It's important to note that some items in your basement are covered under building coverage (like a furnace, hot water heater and circuit breaker) and others are covered under contents coverage that must be purchased in addition to building coverage (for example, your washer and dryer, or your freezer and the food in it).
  • The NFIP encourages people to purchase both building and contents coverage. Flood insurance does not cover basement improvements, such as finished walls, floors, ceilings or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement.
Preferred risk
  • The Preferred Risk Policy offers multiple coverage combinations for both buildings and contents (or contents-only, for renters) that are located in moderate-to-low risk areas (B, C, and X Zones). Preferred Risk Policies are available for residential or non-residential buildings also located in these zones, and that meet eligibility requirements based on the building’s entire flood loss history.
  • It's cheaper and is designed to provide "peace of mind" to owners of homes subject to a lower flood risk.

Additional information on Flood Insurance can be obtained by contacting your insurance agent or click on this link to go to Floodsmart.gov

Protect People From the Flood Hazard

Turn Around, Don't Drown
  • In the event of flooding, never drive through flood waters. It can be very hard to determine how deep the water is. Do not drive through any barricaded roads or streets.
Hidden Hazards
  • Stay out of flood waters, they can hide other hazards. Damaged infrastructure such as washed-out roads and bridges and exposed electrical components are some additional hazards due to flooding.
  • Watch out for displaced wildlife as animals will seek higher and dry ground.

Protect Your Property From The Hazard

Home Mitigation
  • Various methods may be used to minimize flooding. If the floor level of your property is lower than the “Base Flood Elevation” (elevation of the 100‐year flood, based on the FEMA maps), consider elevating your structure, if possible.
  • Review ways to flood proof your home like waterproof exterior walls and place watertight closures over doorways. This method is not generally effective if your house has a basement or if water will get as deep as two feet or more.
  • Use water resistant materials in construction. Check on the resistance of paint, paneling, insulation, floor coverings, cabinet materials, etc.
  • If possible, place the washer, dryer, furnace and water heater above potential flood waters. They should be placed on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation, moved to inside a floodwall or moved to a higher floor. All work must conform to state and local building codes
  • If a flood is imminent, property can be protected by sandbagging areas subject to the entry of water into living spaces. Valuables and furniture may also be moved to higher areas of the dwelling to minimize damages.
  • Residents can help reduce flooding by taking an active role in keeping trash and debris off the streets and sidewalks and out of streams and ditches.
  • Extend down spouts away from your home and make sure the grade of the yard surface slopes away from the home.
  • Clean rain gutters in the spring and fall. Blocked gutters will cause roof water to dump directly against the foundation.
  • Always inventory and photograph your home’s contents and put important papers and insurance policies in a safe place.

Additional information on protecting your property can be obtained by visiting Horry County Public libraries where there are additional FEMA materials on file related to this topic or by clicking on this link to go to Floodsmart.gov.

Build Responsibly

  • A permit is required in the unincorporated areas of the county when the construction or improvement to any building is at a cost in excess of five hundred dollars ($500.00) (including materials and labor)
Zones AE, VE, and A
  • All buildings constructed in an AE flood zone shall be elevated so the lowest floor is located not less than 3ft (36 inches) above the level of base flood. Proper height must be verified by a "finished construction" elevation certificate.
  • All buildings constructed in a VE flood zone shall be elevated so the bottom of the lowest supporting horizontal member is located not less than 3ft (36 inches) above the level of base flood. Proper height must be verified by a "finished construction" elevation certificate.
  • All buildings constructed in a flood zone A without an established base flood elevation shall be elevated so the lowest floor is located not less than twenty-four (24) inches above the highest adjacent grade. Proper height will be verified by the building inspector. An elevation certificate must be completed by the homeowner or licensed surveyor/engineer.
  • Mobile homes located in a flood zone shall have a platform for the air conditioning condenser constructed above the level of base flood in order for the inspection to pass.
NFIP Requirement
  • The NFIP requires that if the cost of reconstruction, additions, or other improvements to a building equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s market value, then the building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building. Substantially damaged buildings must also be brought up to the same standards. For example, a residence damaged so that the cost of repairs equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s value before it was damaged must be elevated above the base flood elevation.

This information can be obtain by contacting the Horry County Code Enforcement office at 843-915-5090 or by clicking on this link to their website.

Protect Natural Floodplain Functions

  • Floodplains are a natural component of the environment. Understanding and protecting the natural functions of floodplains helps reduce flood damage and protect resources. When flooding spreads out across the floodplain, its energy is dissipated, which results in lower flood flows downstream, reduced erosion of the streambank and channel, deposition of sediments higher in the watershed and improved groundwater recharge.
  • Floodplains are scenic, valued wildlife habitat, and suitable for farming.
  • Poorly planned development in floodplains can lead to streambank erosion, loss of valuable property, increased risk of flooding to downstream properties and degradation of water quality.
  • Beachfront areas of Horry County also contain primary oceanfront dunes which serve as a buffer against minor wave height fluctuations and beach erosion.
  • Activities that disturb beachfront and saltwater wetlands should not be undertaken without first obtaining permits from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. Any disturbance of freshwater wetlands requires a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and certification from S.C. DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

Have a Family Disaster Plan for Flooding

  • Whether you are evacuating for a flood or a tropical system know where you will evacuate to and the best way to get there.
  • Also make sure you have a safe designated meeting place should you and your family get separated.
  • Make sure to have an emergency kit that is easily accessible and able to be taken with you.
  • Identify any special needs/disabilities an individual has and plan accordingly ahead of time.
  • Remember to plan for all family members including your pets.
  • Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water.
  • Ensure every member of the household knows the plan. Practice your plan regularly.
During. What to remember in a mandatory evacuation.
  • Unplug electrical equipment, such as radios and televisions, and small appliances, such as toasters and microwaves.
  • Turn off gas, electricity, and water to the house.
  • Tune‐in to local commercial radio or television stations or NOAA weather radio frequencies. The purchase of a Weather Alert Radio for your home and place of employment can help you stay informed of changing conditions.
  • Keep the fuel tank as full as possible. In an evacuation, gas may not be readily available.
  • Have enough cash for a few days because ATM’s may not work during power outages and stores might not be able to take debit and credit cards. Be sure to have plenty of small bills, as it may be difficult to get change.
  • Fill prescriptions that might be needed and stock up on any necessary medical supplies.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways. Floodwaters can conceal damage underneath, and as little as two feet of running water can carry away most vehicles including SUV’s.
  • Avoid low‐lying areas. Seek shelter in the highest areas possible.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Horry County Emergency Management office at 843-915-5150 or by visiting their website.

Flood Warning Information

  • Know where to obtain flood warning information when potential flooding may occur. Understand the differences between a flood watch and flood warning.
  • Have multiple ways of receiving emergency alerts.
  • NOAA weather radios, wireless emergency alerts (WEA), and smartphone apps are all good options to obtain flood warning information.

Flooding Insurance Eligibility

Buy Flood Insurance
  • You do not have to be in a special flood hazard area (SFHA) to purchase flood insurance.
  • Flooding can occur outside of identified flood hazard areas.
  • Know your flood risk and buy flood insurance.

Disaster Insurance Knowledge

Homeowners Insurance
  • Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage or content damage caused by flooding. Talk to your insurance agent about options regarding coverage for flooding and other disasters.
  • The way water gets into your home determines what insurance will cover.
  • Be proactive by documenting and taking pictures of your home, business and items to keep accurate records for insurance.

Flood Safety

Horry County Emergency Management is responsible for developing emergency response plans and taking a lead role in the coordination of those plans during an emergency. Emergency Management employees work closely with state and local officials to gather resources necessary to overcome a disaster or emergency situation. Our employees train for many types of disasters and are always willing to provide warning, safety and evacuation information. If you visit Horry County Emergency Management webpage you can sign up to receive weather warning and information sent directly to your phone through the CodeRed information system. Additional warning for events will be handled in conjunction with evacuation notifications and OPCON levels issued by the Horry County and the State.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Horry County Emergency Management office at 843-915-5150 or by clicking this link to their website

Real-Time Maps

Water gage real-time maps

NOAA hosts an excellent resource for the southeast's river forecast. By interacting with their map, you can check current and predicted water levels for many regions within Horry County.

View Real-Time Gage Information

Elevation Certificates

1998-2009 (Historical)