Flood Awareness

Protect yourself and your home

Floods can occur in the City of Beaufort at any time during the year. Storm surge from hurricanes and tropical storms pose the greatest threat for flooding. Extreme high tides and heavy rains can also cause flooding in our neighborhoods as the capacity of the drainage system is overwhelmed.

Because of our flat topography and location amid the marshes and tidal rivers of South Carolina’s Sea Islands, flooding can occur most anywhere in the City. Being prepared is your best defense against a flood. 

Know your flood hazard

Regulated floodplains are shown on the new flood maps called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). These are the official maps for a community on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delineated both the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), and lesser flood risk areas. SFHAs represent the areas subject to inundation by the 1% annual chance of a flood event. Structures located in the SFHA have a 26% chance of flooding during the life of a standard 30-year mortgage, and flood insurance is mandatory in these areas. 

FIRM maps are available for free public viewing online at msc.fema.gov/portal. You can also email Martie Kay McTeer at the City of Beaufort Building Codes Office or call her at 843- 379-7051 for help determining which flood zone your property is located in. You can also find flood certificates for individual properties here.

Insure your property

Flooding is not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. FEMA administers the National Flood Insurance Program, which is available to homeowners, condo owners, commercial owners, and all renters. Renters are encouraged to purchase flood insurance for the contents of their home. Homeowners can get up to $250,000 of building and contents coverage, and businesses can get up to $500,000 of building and contents coverage. Renters can obtain up to $100,000 of coverage.  

There is a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect. That means now is the best time to buy flood insurance! 

Contact your preferred insurance agency for more information. Additional information can be found online at www.floodsmart.gov or by calling 1-888-379-9531.  

Copies of elevation certificates for all structures new or substantially improved since 1996 are available for review online at www.cityofbeaufort.org or in person. To review an elevation certificate call 843-255-2065 (County) or 843-379-7051 (City).

Protect yourself and your family

Make a plan for your household, including your pets, so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to protect yourselves from flooding.

build-a-kitBuild a “Go Kit” of the supplies you will need if you have to quickly evacuate your home.

Know types of flood risk in your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information.

Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. You can sign up for alerts with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office here. (The Sheriff's Office oversees emergency management throughout the Beaufort County.)

If flooding threatens your home, turn off electricity at the main breaker. If you lose power, turn off all major appliances.

Turn off the gas and be alert for gas leaks. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you know that the gas has been turned off and the area ventilated.

Seek shelter in the highest area possible.

Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways. As little as two feet of turning water can carry away most vehicles.

Protect your property

Various methods may be used to minimize flooding. If the first finished floor elevation of your property is lower than the base flood elevation (BFE) established by FEMA, consider elevating your structure.  

If a flood is imminent, protect your property by sandbagging areas vulnerable to the entry of water. Move valuables and furniture to higher areas of the dwelling to minimize damages.  

The City of Beaufort Building Official will work with the City of Beaufort Public Works to make a site visit to provide one-on-one advice to property owners regarding any flooding and drainage issues on private property. For more information, contact Martie Kay McTeer at 843-379-7051 or email her. 

Build responsibly

A building permit is issued by the City of Beaufort Building Codes Office to build a structure or otherwise develop on a property located within a 100-year floodplain. The National Flood Insurance Program requires that if your structure is damaged or improved to an amount of 50% or more of the structure’s market value, it must meet the construction requirements for a new building, and comply with the flood ordinance. Structures in A Zones must be elevated to the most restrictive of 13 feet mean sea level, or the base flood elevation (BFE) plus one foot. The enclosed space below the BFE may be used for building access, storage, or parking. Structures in V Zones must have their lowest horizontal structural member at or above the BFE and may not have enclosures below the BFE. 

Before you build, fill, or otherwise develop in a floodplain, contact Chief Building Official Bruce Skipper at 843-525-7006 or email him. Please report any development in a floodplain without a permit to Bruce.

Protect natural floodplain functions

Floodplains are a natural component of the City of Beaufort’s environment. Understanding and protecting the natural functions of floodplains helps reduce flood damage and protect resources. When flooding spreads out across the floodplain, its energy is dissipated, which results in lower flood flows downstream, reduced erosion of the streambank and channel, deposition of sediments and improved groundwater recharge.

Floodplains are scenic, valued wildlife habitat. Poorly planned development in floodplains can lead to streambank erosion, loss of valuable property, increased risk of flooding to downstream properties and degradation of water quality.

Did you know that it’s illegal to throw anything—ANYTHING AT ALL!—into the waters of the City of Beaufort? Did you know that nothing but stormwater is allowed to go in the storm drains located in streets, rights-of-way, and parking lots? 

Dumping materials into our waters or drains pollutes those waters, clogs our storm drains, and leads to flooding in our neighborhoods. Even leaves and grass clippings can collect in drainage ditches and obstruct the flow of water, causing flooding. For questions, or to report obstructions or violations, contact either the City of Beaufort Public Works Department (Nate Farrow: Email Nate or call him at 843-525-7054) or the City of Beaufort Building Codes Office (Martie Kay McTeer: Email Martie Kay or call her 843-379-7051).

Prepare for hurricanes


The City of Beaufort will provide emergency notifications in the event of a hurricane watch or warning. In the event of an emergency, check local TV, radio sources, SC emergency broadcast stations, our home page, the Beaufort County website and/or the National Weather Service Charleston for up-to-date information. We will also have the latest information on our Facebook and Nextdoor pages, and on Twitter.

Information on evacuation routes can be found at the South Carolina Department of Transportation's evacuation map.

Visit Ready.gov to learn more about what actions to take in the event of a hurricane watch or alert in your area.

General preparedness

Inventory and photograph your home’s contents and put important papers and insurance policies in a safe place.

Keep an emergency supply including non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, manual can opener, and a battery-operated radio.  

If possible, place the washer, dryer, furnace and water heater on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation, inside a floodwall, or moved to a higher floor. All work must conform to state and local building codes. 

Buy flood insurance even in low-risk zones 

Flood insurance is not just for properties located in the SFHA. Did you know that more than 25% of flood insurance claims are for structures outside the 100-year floodplain? Even if your home or business is located outside the SFHA in an X-Zone and C-Zone, it may still be at risk of flooding. Homeowners, renters, and business owners located outside the SFHA can purchase standard policies or reduced-rate “preferred risk” policies.

Anyone can purchase a residential flood insurance policy; you don’t have to be a homeowner to get flood insurance. Homeowners can get building and contents coverage, and renters can get contents coverage. Contact your preferred insurance agency for more information. Additional information can be found online at www.floodsmart.gov or by calling 1-888-379-9531.   

Flood education

Homeowners can learn more about the risk of flooding from stormwater and coastal sources as well as the benefits of mitigation by contacting the Building Codes Office at 843-379-7051. The City of Beaufort is also promoting education on NAI — no adverse impact floodplain management — to set local goals and reduce damages from floods. To learn more about NAI, visit www.floods.org.