FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is my property is located in a flood zone?

    • All properties in the City of Charleston are in a flood zone, but not all properties are in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). See the "Know Your Flood Zone" tab for more information.
    • FEMA’s interactive Map Service Center can be used to view the currently effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), Flood Insurance Study (FIS), and any Letters of Map Change (LOMC).
    • A community flood hazard information letter is available upon request. Please email Floodplain-info@charleston-sc.gov and include the property address.  
    • The currently effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) is publicly available through Charleston County Public Libraries (368.122 FLOOD). 
  2. Who is required to carry flood insurance and who is eligible for flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)?

    • All property owners in the City of Charleston may purchase a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
    • Most lenders require property owners to carry flood insurance under the NFIP for structures within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as determined by the currently effective FIRM.
    • Lenders may require property owners  to carry flood insurance even for buildings outside of the SFHA.
    • A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage.
    • Property owners outside of the SFHA are encouraged to purchase NFIP flood insurance polices at discounted Preferred-Risk rates. 
    • A standard NFIP policy only covers structural damage. Homeowners can purchase an additional policy for contents coverage.
    • There is a 30 day waiting period after policy purchase before coverage begins. For this reason, it is highly recommended to purchase or changes to a policy before the start of hurricane season.
  3. Where can I find answers to questions about my flood insurance policy?

    • Contact your insurance provider directly to discus a specific policy
    • Visit FloodSmart to learn more about the NFIP
    • Contact the NFIP Help Center at: 877-336-2627 
    • Click here to see how you can possibly decrease your National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance rate.
  4. Where can I find an Elevation Certificate for my property? 

    • Existing Elevation Certificates in City records are now available on Mapnet.
    • A new Elevation Certificate can be obtained at anytime from a South Carolina licensed engineer or land surveyor.
    • An Elevation Certificate is currently required for all new construction in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). 
    • If an Elevation Certificate has been completed in the past, it may be found in the property owner’s closing documents.
    • Even if not required, an Elevation Certificate can benefit the homeowner and may qualify flood insurance holders for reduced premiums.
  5. Can I request a change to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?

    • Yes. A property owner may request the change by submitting Letter of Map Change (LOMC) documentation to FEMA. Reasons to submit a LOMC request include:
      • The property is at a higher elevation than the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on the FIRM
      • The property has been re-graded or elevated with fill.
      • More accurate information than shown on the FIRM is available.
  6. What should I do if my property is flooded?

    • Sandbags may be used to provide temporary floodproofing protection to buildings. Sandbags will be distributed by the City at designated locations prior to a storm event.
    • Do not drive your vehicle, of any kind, through flooded streets. Monitor warning signals, police barriers, and reported road closures to know when it is safe to reenter an area. 
    • Do not enter a flooded building until floodwaters have receded. Floodwaters may contain wastewater, waterborne bacteria, and physical debris which may present a hazard to human health and safety. 
    • Contact your flood insurance provider to file a claim within 2 weeks of the event. 
    • When a flood insurance claim payment is received, documentation showing how claims monies are spent—such as receipts, contracting invoices, or bank statements—should be preserved. 
    • All applicable permits must be obtained before repair work is completed.
    • Check the following sources for emergency management information, storm updates, closings, and evacuation information:
  7. What can I do to protect my home? 

    • Mitigation strategies include elevation, relocation, or acquisition and demolition. Learn more about your options on the Flood Mitigation Resources page.
    • Learn more about how homeowner projects, such as rain gardens or barrels, can capture and manage stormwater on your own property through the Charleston Rainproof program. 
  8. What is the Community Rating System (CRS) discount on my flood insurance policy bill?

    • The CRS is a voluntary program in which NFIP communities can participate that recognizes and incentivizes flood risk reduction activities taken by the community which exceed the requirements of the NFIP. 
    • Flood insurance rates are discounted in the participating community in increments of 5% based upon the community’s rating to reflect the reduced flood risk.
    • The City’s current CRS rating is 6, which provides citizens up to a 20% premium discount.
  9. Is my property vulnerable to sea level rise?

Contact Us

Caroline Schnell

Floodplain Manager
Phone: 843-579-6481

Kinsey Holton, CFM 

Stormwater Regulatory Practice Leader
Phone: 843-724-3757