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By Martine Wolfe-Miller, Mount Pleasant Communications Manager
MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (August 3, 2015) - Did you know that the Town of Mount Pleasant provides several important services to residents and businesses within the Special Flood Hazard Areas (Zones AE and VE)? These areas are identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“Every year, the Town releases information that can be used to help protect yourself and your property against flooding,” said Floodplain Manager Rob Rogerson. “We publicize this information yearly as part of the Town’s participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) Program. This program allows us to earn points for a variety of activities, including outreach projects to the community, enforcement of construction regulations pertaining to flood damage prevention, and participation in the Charleston Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. The Town is currently rated as a Class 6 community and residents therefore receive a 20% reduction in their annual flood insurance premiums.”
All residences and businesses in Mount Pleasant are either located in Special Flood Hazard Areas or are located in close proximity to these areas. Two types of flooding occur in Mount Pleasant.
The first is flooding due to rising water caused by tropical storms and hurricanes, commonly known as the “storm surge”. These risk areas are shown on the FIRMs. The second type of flooding is localized flooding caused by blocked or inadequate drainage facilities. This type of localized flooding can happen during any heavy rain event. For more information on coastal flood hazards, please go to https://www.fema.gov/coastal-flood-hazard-technical-resources.
The most recent events that have extensively flooded large areas of Mount Pleasant include Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. High water marks resulting from Hugo have been surveyed and are shown on maps that are available in the Building Inspection Division Office.
The Town provides verbal and written determinations regarding flood zones and base flood elevations for properties located in the Town of Mount Pleasant.
When requesting this information, please provide the property address and the TMS (Tax Map Sequence) number or the PID (Property Identification Number) for the parcel. Flood zone determinations can be obtained by contacting the Floodplain Manager at (843 849-2029 or go to https://www.tompsc.com/forms.aspx?FID=188 to complete an online request form for a written determination. A small fee is charged for written flood zone determinations.
The Town’s FIRMs are available to the public for viewing in the Building Inspection Division office. The FIRMs are also available as a layer on the Town’s interactive GIS website at http://maps.tompsc.com/parcelsearch. FIRMs can also be viewed or purchased through FEMA’s Map Service Center at http://msc.fema.gov/portal.
During construction, Elevation Certificates are required to be submitted to the Town for all structures built in Special Flood Hazard Areas. These Elevation Certificates are permanently maintained on file by the Town. Copies are available from the Town for a small fee. Contact the Building Inspection Permitting Office at (843) 884-5184 for a copy of the request form or complete an online form as a “Freedom of Information Request” at http://www.tompsc.com/requesttracker.aspx.
Standard property insurance policies do not cover losses due to floods. However, due to the Town’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), federally-backed flood insurance is available in Mount Pleasant. This insurance is available to any owner of insurable property (a building or its contents). Renters can also obtain coverage for their personal property, even if the property owner does not buy structural coverage for the building. For more information, contact your insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Don’t wait to get flood insurance! There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect.
Property Protection Measures
There are a number of measures that can be taken to help protect a property against flood damage. These can include major projects, such as elevating the whole structure, or less costly measures, such as elevating electrical panels, water heaters, and heating & air conditioning equipment. Washer, dryers, and other appliances can also be elevated or moved to areas less likely to flood. If flooding is likely, and time permits, essential items and furniture should be moved to the upper floors of your home or business. Keep sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing. Go to http://www.fema.gov/protect-your-property for more information.
If requested, Town staff is available to visit a property to review flooding problems and to explain possible flood protection measures. Contact the Floodplain Manager at 849-2029 or the Stormwater Manager at (843) 856-2157 to schedule an appointment. These services are free.
Flood Warning & Flood Safety
Stay alert to weather advisories. Local television and radio stations will broadcast updates and alerts under the Emergency Alert System as these are posted by the National Weather Service. If evacuations are required, it is imperative that you follow instructions. Street patrols and door-to-door notification may be used if the evacuation is mandatory. Generally, residents are given 48 to 72 hours’ notice in advance of a hurricane.
There are several actions residents of flood prone areas can take to decrease the potential for damage or injury due to flooding:
• If your property is in danger of flooding, unplug appliances and turning off all utilities (power, water, and gas) at the main disconnects.
• Do not walk through flowing water.
• Avoid driving through flooded areas. If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
• Keep everyone away from flood waters, ditches, culverts, and storm drains.
• Stay away from downed power lines and other electrical wires.
• Be alert for gas leaks.
• Look out for animals, especially snakes.
• Report blocked drains and flooded areas to the Town for investigation.
• Keep yard debris and other materials away from drains – check and clear the drains before a storm event.
• Go to the Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Department web site at http://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/emergency-management/index.php or visit www.Ready.gov/floods 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 Building Inspection Division at (843) 884-5184 or the Planning Department at (843) 884-1229. Also, if you see construction, clearing, or filling in the floodplain, but no permit sign is posted, please notify the Town at one of the above numbers.
Information concerning special construction requirements in the floodplain, such as freeboard and flood resistant materials, can be obtained by contacting the Building Inspection Division at (843)884-5184. Also, the Town’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance is available online at www.tompsc.com under the Government tab – Code of Ordinances – Chapter 152 (Flood Damage Prevention.)
Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage Requirements
If your home or business sustains damage or if you are making improvements to the structure and/or the interior of the building, then the Town’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance may affect how you rebuild or make improvements if your structure is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area. For instance, a building that is “substantially damaged” must be repaired to meet the same construction requirements as a new building, including the elevation requirements.
If you are planning to repair or renovate a structure in a Special Flood Hazard Area, please contact the Building Inspection Division at (843) 884-5184 to determine if your project will be impacted by these regulations. For additional information, download the Substantial Damage/Substantial Improvement Form from the Town’s website at http://www.tompsc.com/documentcenter/view/517.
Drainage System Maintenance
The Town has a complex storm drainage system composed of open ditches and closed pipe sections. These systems may be owned by the Town, State, Charleston County, or private property owners. The ditch systems and piped systems work together to carry stormwater runoff from buildings 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 Town inspects major ditch systems twice a year and cleans systems as needed or reported. Residents can help by keeping ditches and drain inlets near their homes or businesses clear of debris. Also, residents can help by reporting blockages or flooded areas to the Stormwater Office at (843)856-2157 for investigation and cleaning.
A Stream Dumping Ordinance prohibits littering in the drainage system and in bodies of water. Because dumping can create flooding and harm the environment, please report suspicious dumping activities to the Stormwater Office. Also, components of the drainage system may not be connected to or altered without proper approvals. If you know of any unapproved changes to a drainage system (filling, rerouting of streams, nuisances, or ditching), please contact the Town’s Land Codes Inspector at (843) 884-1229 or the Stormwater Office at (843) 856-2157.