Photo credits: Jared Bramblett
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Flash flooding that overburdens outdated drainage infrastructure.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