FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is my property 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.
    • The Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), Flood Insurance Study (FIS), and any Letters of Map Change (LOMC) currently in effect can be viewed using FEMA's interactive Map Service Center.
    • 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). 
  • 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.
    • 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 make changes to a policy before the start of hurricane season. 
      • Hurricane season is typically from late June through late November. 
  • Where can I find answers to questions about my flood insurance policy?

    • Contact your insurance provider directly to discuss a policy for your specific property.
    • Visit FloodSmart to learn more about the NFIP.
    • Contact the NFIP Help Center at: 
    • Click here to learn how you can possibly decrease your National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance rate.
  • 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 any time 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.
  • Can I request a change to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?

    • Yes. A property owner may request a change to the FIRM  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.
  • What should I do if my property is flooded?

    • Sandbags may be placed in advance 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. 
    • Report structural flooding (flooding that causes damage to your building or structure) to the Citizen Services Desk or the Report Damage page.
    • 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:
  • 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. 
  • 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. CRS recognizes and incentivizes flood risk reduction activities taken by communities 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.
  • Is my property vulnerable to sea level rise?

  • Why does it seem like Charleston always floods when it rains?

Contact Us

Caroline Schnell

Floodplain Manager
Phone: 843-579-6481

Sarah Mardon

Floodplain Management Technician
Phone: 843-579-6471

Kinsey Holton, CFM 

Stormwater Regulatory Practice Leader
Phone: 843-724-3757