Flooding in Myrtle Beach
Flooding is a fact of life along the Grand Strand that is often overlooked in the “Official Relocation Guides”. It’s a real threat that you need to be keenly aware of if you’re living in Myrtle Beach, moving to Myrtle Beach or planning to buy or sell a home anywhere along the Grand Strand.
In the past 4 years we have experienced 2, 100 year flood events. We’re talking biblical flooding to those affected.
Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018. Both storms produced an exceptionally high amount of rainfall over a very short period. Florence was by far the worse of the two but both caused significant flooding and damage to homes and neighborhoods throughout the area. Many homes spared by Matthew were consumed by Florence flood waters. Many homes were flooded twice in that 2 year period. Over 2000 homes were destroyed over severely damaged by these floods.
In addition, localized King Tide flooding occurs in some low lying coastal areas such as Garden City and Cherry Grove. Even a large thunderstorm system can produce limited flooding in areas along the river, waterway or other low lying areas and natural watersheds.
Before purchasing a home in Myrtle Beach or nearby you should research your flood zone. Homes in high risk zones may have already been flooded and are subject to repeated flooding if not properly elevated.
There are a lot of “flood” homes on the market that may look like good deals. These are not your typical fix and flip homes. They generally require a bare bones rebuild not just paint and carpet. Some of these homes have been repaired and put up for sale but may still have hidden problems.
Here’s how to determine if a property is in a high risk area …
If you’re in a high risk zone flood insurance can be very expensive. Depending on the zone and the elevation requirements you could be paying several hundred or several thousand dollars each year for flood insurance. If you’re getting a mortgage your lender will require flood insurance or they may deny the loan outright. Of course if you pay cash for the home, flood insurance would be optional. However being in a flood prone zone will be an issue to potential buyers when you’re ready to sell the home in the future.
We have a lot Raised beach cottages and other homes in the area that are elevated on piers. You’ll see a lot of these in Surfside, Garden City, Cherry grove, right along the beaches and near the river or waterway.
Just because a home is elevated does not mean it is risk free. FEMA has established minimum base elevations for all flood zones. The elevation is the minimum height above sea level of the lowest structural component of the first level living area (usually the floor joists). Failure to meet this requirement could disqualify the home from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Your lender and insurance company may require an elevation certificate before underwriting your loan or issuing insurance. If the home does not have an elevation certificate a FEMA certified surveyor will have to determine the elevation and issue the certificate. That’s an additional expense. If you need a certificate ask the seller to pay for it.
Enclosed Lower Levels.
You may come across an older “raised” beach home where the owner has enclosed the lower level and made it into additional living area. This practice is no longer allowed. The law now provides that lower levels must be used for parking and storage only and may not be enclosed so as to impeded the flow of flood waters. They must be open with a minimum enclosed space for storage. Lattice and other open siding materials may be used for aesthetics or architectural purposes.
If you find a home where the lower section is enclosed you may not be able to buy flood insurance or you may be required to demolish the lower living area. There is a pending lawsuit in Surfside Beach where the town is demanding a new homeowner demolish the enclosed living space built by the previous owner. Buyer beware!
So when buying a home on the Grand Strand make sure “flood mitigation” is part of your due diligence. Your Realtor, Your Lender, and your insurance agent will be invaluable in helping you avoid potential issues.
1. Know your Zone
2. Know if the home your looking at or the neighborhood it’s in has ever been flooded.
3. Know whether flood insurance is required and what it will cost.
4. Know the elevation requirements and whether or not you need an elevation certificate
5. Steer clear of of homes in high risk zones with enclosed lower levels.
Flooding Links & Resources
Hurricane Florence Flooding Photo Gallery
Photos courtesy of The National Weather Service by Jonathan Lamb/NWS