Horry County committee discusses possible revisions to flood protection standards

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Revisions to Horry County’s new flood protection standards were discussed at Tuesday’s Infrastructure and regulation Committee, but no major changes were made.

The new flood protection measures were passed by council previously prohibiting critical infrastructure from being built in the 100- and 500-year flood plain and updating the elevation standards for homes. Some council members requested revisions and April O’Leary with Horry County Rising talked about those concerns.

One consideration O’Leary was concerned with was the recommendation to remove the no net fill standard from being applied to the supplemental flood zone — the land that flooded in Florence.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure when we bring [fill into] the flood zones to elevate, whether it be the road or the streets — which is the infrastructure — or to elevate the homes and properties themselves,” O’Leary said. “We want to make sure that fill really does not increase flood risk or flood [damage] on existing communities.”

That didn’t end up passing but what did pass was Councilman Tyler Servant’s requested revision to ensure the no net fill standard was not applied to the coastal zone.

What didn’t pass was the consideration to reduce the freeboard requirement.

“What was being considered was the three-foot freeboard and whether or not that was unreasonable,” O’Leary said. “Whether it really should be two feet.”

The old county standard has a one-foot freeboard requirement, which meant the first floor of the home had to be just one foot above the base flood elevation. But now that’s changed and the new requirement is making houses higher, farther away from flood water — something O’Leary was pushing for.

“We really feel with the new standards in place that we can prevent 93% of the flood damage in rivering areas,” she said.

O’Leary said, “It is certainly a great step in the right direction ensuring that new construction, new homes, new communities investing in Horry county, that this is going to be a great place to live and work.”

One thing that did pass was Chairman Johnny Gardner’s request to delay when these new measures would go into effect, which will now be November.

“I think we’re all aligned in wanting to make sure we protect families from flooding and that is something I’m so excited that we’ll be able to achieve with the new laws,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary said though this is a big step for them, “it’ll be important that we revisit this and really take a look at what types of projects have been approved with the new flood protection standard in place.”

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