Updating a county’s flood map involves federal, state and local agencies collaborating — so the endeavor requires patience.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency partners with a state agency — for South Carolina, it’s the Department of Natural Resources — to survey land elevation, measure properties’ distance from water and run models of past storms.
FEMA uses this information to predict a property’s risk of future flooding. The result is a map with zones that carry a corresponding flood risk and insurance rate.
Generally, the closer you live to the ocean or another body of water prone to flooding, the more likely you will need flood insurance.
In South Carolina, DNR gives a county a 30-to-45-day window to examine the new map before holding community meetings to address concerns. FEMA and DNR representatives are available to answer questions about the preliminary map, a sort of rough draft that has no affect on insurance rates.
Is a street name spelled wrong? A new road added after the map is drawn? What about if you think you’ve been placed into the wrong flood zone? These issues should be addressed in a written request, known as a Letter of Map Change, to FEMA during a 90-day appeal period.
FEMA reviews comments and appeals and makes revisions if necessary. Once a flood map is finalized, a six-month grace period begins for communities to adopt floodplain management ordinances based on the new flood map.
What flood zone do I live in?
▪ For a map, visit townofbluffton.us/flood.
Hilton Head Island
▪ For a map, visit www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov/publications/maps/FIRMMap.pdf
▪ To type in your address, visit hiltonheadislandsc.gov. In the “How do I...” box, click “Find,” then “My flood zone.”
For More Detailed Information (or you live in Beaufort or Unincorporated)
▪ Visit bcgov.net.
▪ Hover over “On-Line Services,” then “Property, Finance and Taxes”, and click “Property Max real property information.”
▪ Click “Start your search” located near middle of page.
▪ In the left box titled “Search by” box, click “Street Address” and enter your address.
▪ In the left box titled “Records,” click “GIS/Mapping.”
▪ Click “Go to map.”
▪ Click on the globe icon at the top of the page to open a “Map Layers” box.
▪ Check the “Elevation Data” box and then click the + sign to the left of it.
▪ Check the box next to “Flood Zones.”
▪ Click the “i” icon at the top of the page.
▪ Click on the circle “Identify by point” icon. Then click on your property in the map.
▪ The system is a little glitchy. Click on the “Identify by point” circle icon again. Then click on your property a second time. Flood zone information should then appear.