Flood Information

Floodplain Management

Floodplain Management assists customers in meeting the requirements of the Town of Pawleys Island’s Flood Hazard Reduction Ordinance and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The Town Administrator is the contact for all the flood information for the Town, including Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), Elevation Certificates (ECs) and Flood Insurance Studies.

This administrator’s office is also responsible for the Community Rating System (CRS) information. CRS is a voluntary program, which, based on activities performed by the community determines a discount from 5 percent to 40 percent on flood insurance rates. Currently, the Town of Pawleys Island is a CRS Class 6 and we receive a 20 percent discount on our local flood insurance premiums. The town engages in many activities that could lead to a lower CRS classification in the future.

The following information can be obtained from Town Hall:

  • Flood Map Determinations and an explanation of your risk to flooding
  • Copies of Elevation Certificates (ECs)
  • Copies of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)
  • Requirements for Construction in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)
  • Substantial/Improvements Damage Determinations 

Please call Town Hall at (843) 237-1698 for more information.

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 Georgetown County. View Real-Time Gage Information

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

Know Your Flood Hazard

Where are the Special Flood Hazard Areas on Pawleys Island?

The entire Town of Pawleys Island is in a flood hazard area. Maps of your specific location can be found at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Map Service Center.

How do I know what Flood Zone I am in?

Town Hall can assistance you in determining which flood zone your property is located.  Email the Town Administrator at rfabbri@townofpi.com or stop by Town Hall to inquire. Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Pawleys Island are also available on-line at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Map Service Center.

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 Property From Flood Damage

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

Various methods may be used to minimize flooding such as elevating your structure (see the links below).  If a flood is imminent, protect your property by sandbagging areas subject to the entry of water.  Valuables and furniture can be moved to higher areas of the dwelling to minimized damage.

The Pawleys Island Building Inspector can make site visits to provide one-on-one advice to property owners regarding flooding and drainage issues on private property.  For additional information, please contact Town Hall at (843) 237-1698 or rfabbri@townofpi.com.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency maintains an electronic library of reference materials on topics such as retrofitting structures for enhanced flood and hurricane resistance and protecting building utilities from flood damages. The Georgetown County libraries also have multiple publications available in their reference sections on protecting property from flood damages. Since Georgetown County is subject to hurricanes, measures such as protecting glazed openings in your building against high wind damages should also be taken for property protection.

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?

The Town of Pawleys Island participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. This means that any home or business in the Town 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 the Town of Pawleys Island.  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 in the Town of Pawleys Island?

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.

The Town of Pawleys Island is currently a class 6 in the CRS system! That means any current policy is eligible for a 20% discount.  

Repetitive Loss Properties

The Town of Pawleys Island 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 Town 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 Town 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 the Town of Pawleys Island as being in an area that is subject to repetitive losses from flooding you receive an annual notice from the Town. 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 Pawleys Island, 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 Town of Pawleys Island 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 Town Administrator at rfabbri@townofpi.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 Town Administrator at rfabbri@townofpi.com.

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 the Town of Pawleys Island, values of construction work on building permits taken out on a property during the past ten (5) years are included in the calculation.

Are there any other special requirements?

The Town of Pawleys Island enforces V Zone Construction Standards throughout the town, 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 three feet 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 three feet 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 three 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.

Elevation Certificates

Town Hall maintains copies of flood elevation certificates for all new construction and substantially improved structures. If your structure was built after 1989, 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. Please email the Town Administrator at rfabbri@townofpi.com for questions related to elevation certificates.

Links and Floodplain Resources

FEMA Flood Page

FEMA Flood Insurance Page

Flood Preparedness

South Carolina Emergency Management

Freeboard – What is it?

How to File Flood Insurance Claim

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