Nearly 90% of Charleston homes, businesses vulnerable to storm surge, flooding damage study shows

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Nearly 90% of homes and businesses in the City of Charleston could fall victim to storm surges and tidal flooding unless something is done now to curb the problem. City officials are looking for ways to do just that.

Flooding, storm surge and hazardous materials are all risks city leaders are looking to mitigate and improve to prevent future problems.

Significant flooding events disrupting life are becoming more common across Charleston.

“Well it’s definitely been tough when it comes to getting to class,” says College of Charleston student Patrick Henzy. “You know I have a lot of classes in an area that floods, I have a couple classes and it’s kind of hard getting to them when there’s a foot of water there.”

The numbers are staggering, a completed risk assessment shows a majority of businesses and homes in the city are vulnerable to significant damage from storm surge. The study conducted by sustainability officials lasted two years.

During a committee meeting on Thursday night, a more than one hundred page report was presented with findings from the survey.

“To be able to help us fully understand where the hazards are, what the vulnerabilities are, what the risk is,” was the impetus for the study, says Chief Resiliency Officer for the City of Charleston Mark Wilbert.

City leaders will use the findings to make improvements, hoping to mitigate impacts from flooding, sea level rise, earthquakes, and other dangerous natural disasters.

“It’s a tool used to help make planning decisions, to help make infrastructure decisions,” says Wilbert. “Hopefully it’ll be a tool for City Council to use as they deliberate.”

In the City of Charleston, Wilbert says city leaders can no longer take a “business as usual” approach.

“All of these projects are on-going,” says Wilbert. “These are the risks that we are hopefully going to [drive] down by using the resources that we’re using, but this is the path that we’re going to have to go on.”

Projects include raising the sea battery wall, addressing flood prone areas, and much more. Wilbert says some responsibility falls on the community too.

“They now know what the risks are, they understand what the city can and can’t do, and then they are going to have to take individual action as well,” says Wilbert.

City leaders plan to review the findings from the risk assessment to make changes moving forward.

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