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Charleston’s Flooding- Reason to Worry?

With the anxiety and uncertainty of hurricane season always comes the question of flood zones and flood insurance when buying a home in the Lowcountry. A typical tropical storm is 300-400 miles wide. The Charleston Peninsula is only 3.2 miles long and it sits only about eight feet above sea level. It’s easy to see how even a tropical storm grade event can cause some concern among Charleston and its residents.

If you are considering a move to Charleston county, or any surrounding cities, flood zones and flood threats may be something you are anxious about. Aside from proximity to water sources (lakes, rivers, streams, creeks and, obviously, oceans) flooding susceptibility is also rated based on less obvious factors such as the absorptive capacity of soil, sewer system capacity and proximity of dams and levees. FEMA has a handy map tool to see if your home, or potential new home, falls in a flood zone.

However, don’t let flood zones deter you from buying the home of your dreams or purchasing a home in the city you love. The key is being aware, prepared and COVERED. While flood insurance has a bad rep of being completely useless and unaffordable it has come a long way the past few years as hurricanes and damaging weather have becoming more of an issue. The average cost of flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is $771 a year, or $64 a month. *If you are in a high risk flood zone you are legally required if you obtain a mortgage to have flood insurance.

“A standard flood insurance policy pays for direct physical damage to your INSURED property up to the replacement cost or actual cash value,” according to FEMA. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers two types of flood coverage- building and contents.

Building Coverage Protects:
Electrical and plumbing systems
Furnaces and water heaters
Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances like dishwashers
Permanently installed carpeting
Permanently installed cabinets, paneling, and bookcases
Window blinds
Foundation walls, anchorage systems, and staircases.
Detached garages
Fuel tanks, well water tanks and pumps, and solar energy equipment

Content Coverage Protects:
Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
Washer and dryer
Portable and window air conditioners
Microwave oven
Carpets not included in building coverage (e.g., carpet installed over wood floors)
Valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)

It’s important to note that most flood insurance policies don’t automatically provide contents coverage. According to FEMA, only one in four homeowners with a standard flood insurance policy is covered for damage to their contents. That’s a sizable gamble when you consider the out of pocket expenses that could be needed to replace damaged personal property.

When purchasing your flood insurance policy it is important to understand you can research and shop policies through the NFIP as well as private insurers. Getting the policy that best fits your property, risk and concerns in case of damage are vital.

Have questions? Worried about floods and hurricanes when considering Charleston your home? Reach out and let’s chat!