THE ISSUE

Photo credits: Jared Bramblett

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Flooding in the Lowcountry is not a new problem.  Just ask any resident of Charleston County – and you will likely hear a story.  Due to its low lying coastal elevation, close proximity to rivers and the ocean, and poorly planned development on filled-in wetlands, Charleston County has experienced drainage and flooding complications for hundreds of years. Flooding in the region is attributed to:

  • Tidal flooding and storm surge resulting from extreme weather.

  • Flash flooding that overburdens outdated drainage infrastructure.

  • Riverine flooding caused by heavy and prolonged rainfall that inundates the capacity of river and stream channels.

Shallow Coastal Flooding Risk

In 2016 alone, Charleston County experienced 50 days of tidal flooding.  This is a staggering increase from an average of four days just five decades ago.  It no longer takes a catastrophic storm to cause flooding.  Rainfall paired with a high tide and in municipalities across the region are flooded, impacting vital transportation routes which causes major disruptions to travel patterns.  Millions of dollars worth of property has been damaged due to flooding in the Lowcountry.  As if our coastal region is not vulnerable enough, the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester region ranks in the top 15 U.S. metro regions prone to hurricane-driven storm surge damage.

The time is now for Charleston County  to address the problem and become better equipped to recover from flooding.  Scientists predict that sea levels will rise 2.5 feet over the next 50 years. What does this mean for the Lowcountry?  Simply put, tidal flooding could occur as or more frequently than 180 days in the year 2050.

Category 1 Storm Surge

Funding the Solutions

In 2016, Charleston County taxpayers voted to raise the local sales tax an additional half-cent in order to fund mass transit, road improvement projects, the protection of greenspace, and drainage. The ½ cent sales tax money is a $2 billion source of funding which is available now and must be used to fund drainage infrastructure projects in Charleston County.  The self imposed decision to raise taxes was a result of residents determined to solve a problem after years of inaction by local and state leaders. Neighborhoods around Charleston County are being severely and repeatedly flooded and are in desperate need of drainage improvements.  If residents are unable to live safely in their homes and travel to and from work, how will they be able to pay taxes to fund new roads?  Charleston County residents need to demand that Council pass a resolution to prioritize using half cent funds for drainage infrastructure.  Rising tides and increased frequency of nuisance flooding affects all Lowcountry residents  in one way or another.  Bottom line: flooding and drainage must be addressed before the County begins other infrastructure or development projects.