Flood Protection Information

Flooding is a major hazard in the City of Folly Beach. The greatest threat for flooding in Folly Beach is from storm surges associated with a hurricane from the Atlantic Ocean. Folly Beach has experienced many hurricanes and other severe storms throughout our history, the most recent of which were Hurricanes Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999. In 2011 Tropical Storm Irene resulted in heavy flooding in parts of the island. Remember though, flooding doesn’t have to come from hurricanes. Heavy rain and even extremely high tides can cause floods. Because of the flat topography, flooding can occur almost anywhere in the city.  Being prepared is your best defense against a flood.

The information on this page can help you prepare for flooding, protect your property, and keep your family safe.

Folly Beach Flood Reporter

Know Your Flood Hazard

Where are the Special Flood Hazard Areas in Folly Beach?


How do I know what Flood Zone I am in?


What do the zones on the Flood Insurance Maps Mean?

  • “A” Zone: The property is in the special flood hazard area and is subject to flooding from rising water during a storm. Properties in this flood zone will be required to be elevated to a designated height and will be required to be insured with flood insurance if a mortgage is taken out on the property. “A” Flood Zones may be “A”, “AE”, or “AO” Zones.
  • “V” Zone: The property is in the special flood hazard area and is subject to flooding from rising water and wave action during a storm. Properties in this flood zone will be required to be elevated to a designated height, and all enclosures below the designated height will be required to have break-away walls. Flood insurance will be required on a property in this flood zone if a mortgage is taken out on the property. “V” Flood Zones may be “V” or “VE” Zones.


Protecting People and Pets

What can I do to protect my family and my pets?

 If flooding threatens your home, turn off electricity at the main breaker. If you lose power, turn off all major appliances.

  • Turn off gas and be aware of gas leaks. Use flashlights to inspect for damage. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.
  • Discuss your family emergency plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together, and what you will do in case of an emergency.


Protecting Property From Flood Damage

What can I do to protect my property from flood damage?

Insuring Your Property

Where can I get information about Flood Insurance?

  • The best place to start your research on Flood Insurance is the homepage of the National Flood Insurance Program. You can find out who needs flood insurance, what it covers, the current coverage limits (1-4 Family Residential $250,000 structure and $100,00 for contents and Business Structure $500,000 and Business contents $500,000) and rates, and lots of other useful information. There is a 30-day waiting period before your insurance goes into effect.

Who is eligible for Flood Insurance?

  • Folly Beach participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. This means that any home or business in the city can be covered by a flood insurance policy.

What does Flood Insurance Cover?

  •  Flood Insurance covers a building’s structure and contents. 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. Detached garages and accessory buildings are covered under the policy for the lot’s main building. Renters can buy contents coverage, even if the owner does not buy structural coverage on the building.

How do I get Flood Insurance?

  • Federally subsidized flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program for most properties located in Folly Beach. Damage caused by flooding is not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. A separate flood insurance policy is required for flood peril coverage. Flood insurance is available for buildings only, contents only, or both buildings and contents. Insurance agents or the National Flood Insurance Program should be contacted for flood policy information.


Do I get a discount on Flood Insurance on Folly Beach?

  • The City participates in the Community Ratings System. That means you get a direct discount on your flood policy. To find out more about the CRS program, visit www.crsresources.org.


In 2018, the City of Folly Beach was upgraded to a class 4 in the CRS system! That means any policy issued or renewed after May 1, 2018, is eligible for a 30% discount. Please see the letter HERE.

Repetitive Loss Properties

The City of Folly Beach participates in both the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Community Rating System (CRS). As a result of participation in the CRS program, property owners in the City receive a discount on their yearly flood insurance premiums. One of the requirements of the CRS is the identification and monitoring of repetitive loss areas. The city is required to provide information on flood protection measures and flood insurance to owners of properties in these areas.

If your property has been identified by City of Folly Beach as being in an area that is subject to repetitive losses from flooding you receive an annual notice from the city. Any properties in your area that have experienced two or more flood events in a ten year period (this may not have been in the last ten years) are considered to be repetitive loss properties. Even if your property has not experienced flooding in the last few years, it could susceptible to flooding during any flood event. There are many ways to reduce flooding hazard on your property such as:

·        Elevation: This method consists of raising a house on an elevated support structure to place it above future flood waters. The exact method can include a number of possibilities that depend on local conditions including flood and wind forces, building type and size, and soil bearing capacity. On Folly Beach, elevation is the most effective means of protecting your property.

·        Relocation: This is the most drastic of all flood protection measures; it is also the most effective. Moving a home from a flood prone area to a location outside of the floodplain is the only way to guarantee that you will escape future flooding. Unfortunately, the entire City of Folly Beach is in the floodplain.

·        Berms and Levees: In areas of shallow and moderate flooding, it may be possible to create a barrier of compacted soil to keep the water away from your house. This is one of the most inexpensive means of flood protection and can be attractively landscaped. This method requires continued monitoring and maintenance.

·        Floodwalls: This method is also appropriate for areas with low to moderate flood depths and velocities. Floodwalls are constructed of masonry or concrete block and keep water away from the house much like levees and berms. Floodwalls are more expensive, but require less monitoring and maintenance.

·        Closures: Closures are often used with other techniques such as flood walls and levees. Closures protect gaps from windows, doors, walkways, and driveways.

·        Sealants: Sealants, or dry flood-proofing, can only be used in areas of very shallow flooding. Sealants basically waterproof the lower levels of your home. Because of the tremendous pressure exerted by rising water, sealants are only feasible in areas that are subject to a maximum of three feet of flooding. Sealants can only be used on brick veneer or masonry construction.

If you have any questions about the NFIP, CRS, repetitive loss, or possible improvements to your property please feel free to email the Building Department at elutz@cityoffollybeach.com


Building in the Floodplain

Do I need a building permit to work on a house in the Flood Zone?

·        Building permits are required for any permanent improvement (including re-roofing, siding, additions, alterations, etc.) to a structure and for site work, such as grading, filling, and so forth. Permits are required even if homeowners are doing the work themselves. Questions about permits or reports of non-permitted development should be addressed to the Building Department at permits@follybeach.gov.


Is there a limit to the work I can do to a structure in the Flood Zone?

·        The National Flood Insurance Program requires that if the cost of reconstructing, rehabilitating, adding to, or otherwise improving a structure equals or exceeds 50 percent of the building’s assessed or appraised value, then the building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building. In Folly Beach values of construction work on building permits taken out on a property during the past ten (10) years are included in the calculation.


Are there any other special requirements?

Folly Beach enforces V Zone Construction Standards throughout the City, even in the A Zones. This means that all new construction must follow V Zone Rules.

1) The lowest horizontal structural member of all new and substantially improved structures must be elevated to a minimum of one foot above the base flood elevation indicated on the applicable flood insurance rate map. A flood elevation certificate indicating this elevation must be submitted prior to any building inspection, except for a foundation inspection. This certificate must be of the latest version available.

2) Wall section and foundation plans for structures in “V” flood zones must be designed and sealed by a South Carolina Registered Professional Engineer and/or Architect. Plans must detail breakaway wall construction, foundation design, and scour depth. If spread footings are used, the bottom of the footing must be a minimum of 12 inches below the anticipated scour depth at the structure location. Pre-construction “V-Zone design” and “V-Zone Breakaway wall” certificates must be submitted with the construction plans for review. As-built “V-Zone design” and “V-Zone Breakaway wall” certificates must be submitted prior to a final building inspection.

3) With the exception of one electrical outlet and one switch on a Ground Fault Interrupter (as required to meet the National Electrical Code), there may be no electrical wiring, plumbing fixtures, mechanical fixtures, other equipment, appliances, or ductwork located within new or substantially improved structures below one foot above the base flood elevation. Replacement HVAC systems in “V” flood zones must be located either at or above the existing finished floor elevation or the base flood elevation, whichever is lower, unless the property is undergoing a “Substantial Improvement,” in which case the HVAC system must be elevated to or above one foot above the base flood elevation.

4) Per FEMA, only Flood Resistant Materials Technical Bulletin 2 (Class 4 or 5 materials) are permitted to be used below the base flood elevation.

5) Permitted uses below the base flood elevation are restricted to those necessary for building access, vehicle parking, and limited storage of yard-related equipment.


Walls Below the Base Flood Elevation:

·        All walls below the base flood elevation must be designed and certified by a South Carolina registered Professional Engineer and/or Architect to break away from a water load less than that which would occur during the base flood.


Fill Restrictions:

·        No fill is permitted to be used for structural purposes in “V” flood zones. Landscaping fill is only permitted if a South Carolina registered Professional Engineer certifies in writing that the fill will not cause wave run-up or deflection.


Obstructions Prohibited:

·        No obstructions are permitted below the base flood elevation within a structure. Obstructions not located within a structure (e.g. permanent planters, elevated swimming pools, elevated tennis courts, certain types of fences) are also not permitted unless a South Carolina registered Professional Engineer certifies in writing that the obstructions will not cause wave run-up or deflection.

Lateral Addition Requirements:

·        Construction plans for lateral additions to properties located in “V” flood zones must be sealed and provided with certifications by a South Carolina Registered Professional Engineer and/or Architect as indicated above. Pre-construction and As-built Design and Breakaway Wall Design certificates, as applicable, must be submitted for lateral additions in “V” Zones. If the amount of work done to construct the addition (plus any construction-related work permitted within the past five (5) years from when the addition is permitted) is less than 50 percent of the market value of the structure to which it is attached, the addition must be at a comparable or higher elevation than the structure to which it is being attached. If the amount of work done to construct the addition plus any construction-related work permitted within the past five (5) years from when the addition is permitted is 50 percent or more of the market value of the structure.


Managing the Natural Functions of Floodplains

Does the City have a plan to address flooding?

·        The City of Folly Beach partners with Charleston County who coordinates a regional planning initiative, involving the County and municipalities within Charleston County, in developing and maintaining the Charleston Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. This plan is updated annually to reflect changes that have occurred during the year.

If I see someone dumping into drainage ditches what should I do?

·        Folly Beach has passed an ordinance prohibiting the dumping of trash, landscape debris or other materials into stream channels, ponds, basins or ditches that regularly carry or store stormwater in the city. These channels are routinely cleaned and maintained by the city and by the Charleston County Public Works Department. Residents of Folly Beach are encouraged to assist in maintaining the drainage channels and ditches by removing or reporting obstructions (i.e. shopping carts, debris, trash) at (843) 202-7600. Keeping drainage channels free of obstruction reduces flooding potential in the event of heavy rains.

What if I have dunes or wetlands on my property?

·        Flood hazard areas in Folly Beach may contain wetland areas which serve natural and beneficial functions such as flood moderation, water quality enhancement, ground water recharge, and habitat for wildlife. Beachfront areas may also contain primary ocean front dunes, which serve as buffers against minor wave height fluctuations and beach erosion. Protecting these areas maintains their important functions. 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.

What To Do After a Flood?

·        First and foremost, make certain the building is structurally sound and is not going to collapse or cause other physical harm prior to entering a damaged structure. Shut off the electrical and/or gas service to the structure if there is any possibility that the service is damaged. Notify all applicable insurance carriers of the damage immediately to begin the claims process.

·        If your property is one of many damaged by an event, make sure the address of your property is clearly indicated for inspectors and insurance adjusters.

·        Take photographs of any damaged areas. Secure the property from any additional damages if possible. Wait for your insurance company to give you clearance to begin cleaning up damaged areas.

·        The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has information available online regarding the first steps to take after a flood and about repairing your flooded home. Be careful to avoid injury during post-event clean-up and salvage operations. Make sure any contractors you hire to repair your property are licensed or registered for the type of work they are performing and obtain applicable permits prior to starting work on your property.

Elevation Certificates

·        The Building Department maintains copies of flood elevation certificates for all new construction and substantially improved structures. If your structure was after 1990, we may have an elevation certificate on file for your structure. For structures where an elevation certificate is not available on file, a S.C. Registered Land Surveyor will need to survey the elevation of the structure and complete the flood elevation certificate form. The City of Folly Beach does not survey structures for the purpose of completing flood elevation certificates. Please email the Building Official at elutz@cityoffollybeach.com for questions related to elevation certificates.

·        Real Time Flood Data for Local Rivers. The United States Geological Survey has placed stream gauges in rivers and streams that indicate real-time water elevations at the following locations within Charleston County.

  • Cooper River at Highway 17 – 021720709
  • Cooper River at Mobay N. Charleston 02172053
  • Cooper River at Filbin Creek – 021720677
  • Cooper River at Customs House – 021720711
  • Cooper River at Ports Authority Pier – 0217206935