FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is my property is located in a flood zone?

    • All properties in the City of Charleston are in a flood zone, but not all properties are in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). See the "Know Your Flood Zone" tab for more information.
    • FEMA’s interactive Map Service Center can be used to view the currently effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), Flood Insurance Study (FIS), and any Letters of Map Change (LOMC).
    • A community flood hazard information letter is available upon request. Please email Floodplain-info@charleston-sc.gov and include the property address.  
    • The currently effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) is publicly available through Charleston County Public Libraries (368.122 FLOOD). 
  2. Who is required to carry flood insurance and who is eligible for flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)?

    • Most lenders require property owners to carry flood insurance under the NFIP for structures within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as determined by the currently effective FIRM.
    • Lenders may require property owners  to carry insurance if any part of the property is within the SFHA.
    • Property owners not in the SFHA are encouraged to purchase insurance policy under the NFIP at discounted Preferred-Risk rates. 
  3. What is the Community Rating System (CRS) discount on my flood insurance policy bill?

    • The CRS is a voluntary program in which NFIP communities can participate that recognizes and incentivizes flood risk reduction activities taken by the community which exceed the requirements of the NFIP. 
    • Flood insurance rates are discounted in the participating community in increments of 5% based upon the community’s rating to reflect the reduced flood risk.
    • The City’s current CRS rating is 6, which provides citizens a 20% premium discount.
  4. Where can I find an Elevation Certificate for my property? 

    • A new Elevation Certificate can be obtained at anytime from a private, licensed engineer or land surveyor.
    • An Elevation Certificate is currently required for all new Certificate of Occupancy permits in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). 
    • If an Elevation Certificate has been completed in the past, it will most likely be found in the property owner’s closing documents.
    • The City may have a copy of a building’s Elevation Certificate on file. Contact Floodplain_info@charleston-sc.gov
    • Even if not required, an Elevation Certificate can benefit the homeowner and may qualify flood insurance holders for reduced premiums.
  5. Can I request a change to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?

    • Yes. A property owner may request the change by submitting a Letter of Map Change (LOMC) to FEMA. This may be necessary if:

      • The property is at a higher elevation than the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on the FIRM
      • The property has been re-graded or elevated with fill.
      • More accurate information than shown on the FIRM is available.
  6. What should I do if my property is flooded?

    • Do not enter a flooded building until floodwaters have receded. Floodwaters may contain wastewater, waterborne bacteria, and physical debris which may present a hazard to human health and safety. 
    • Contact your flood insurance provider to file a claim within 2 weeks of the event. 
    • When a flood insurance claim payment is received, documentation showing how claims monies are spent—such as receipts, contracting invoices, or bank statements—should be preserved. 
    • All applicable permits must be obtained before repair work is completed.
  7. Is my property vulnerable to sea level rise?