New FEMA flood zone maps bring concern for some Horry County residents

New FEMA flood zone maps bring concern for some Horry County residents

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - New maps are giving experts a better idea of areas at risk for flooding in Horry County.

That new information, however, could mean more costs.

More than 65,000 people were told they could be affected by new preliminary flood zone maps created by FEMA.

"With that increased technology, we're able to adjust to that newer typography, which makes them more accurate when it comes to where those lines are on the ground," said Maria Lamm, state NFIP coordinator with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "The recent flooding event has nothing to do with any updates to these maps. These maps were released Sept. 11, so just prior to the flooding, and they are based on a statistical probability of a 1 percent chance in any given year."

Officials said that, over time, flood risks change because of factors like construction and development, environmental changes, floodplain widening or shifting, and more.

"Even if you're coming out of a flood zone your risk is still low, moderate, and high, very high if you're in that mapped flood zone," Lamm said. "If you're adjacent to it or near a flood source, you still have a moderate risk. So it's still a good idea to get a flood insurance policy."

With the preliminary maps, officials said more parcels have actually been taken out of flood zones than placed into them. But that wasn't the case for everyone's properties.

"I am extremely frustrated," Horry County resident Peggy Eaddy said. "I'm on a fixed income and my house insurance is already high, and I really don't feel I should be paying flood insurance. Since 1986 there has been no flooding close. It's gone through Hugo, it's gone through Floyd, it's gone through the 1,000-year flood of October, and we've never seen any water within at least a block of our house."

Some people said they left an open house held Wednesday night in the Horry County Government Building with more questions than answers.

"There is the potential for my rate to go really high, five, six, seven times what it is now," Horry County resident Robert Brinson said. "I can't afford that. That's what it comes down to. It's all about affordability. You know we live around the water. It's how do you justify that kind of cost."

The open house was just one of the first steps for many people to find out just where their properties stand when it comes to flood risks.

"It's just the beginning of possibly a very long ordeal, unfortunately," Brinson said. "I'm hoping it resolves well in my case, but we won't know for quite some time."

The appeals process for the maps doesn't start until May. It will last for 90 days and then the maps have to be approved by the county through an ordinance. Officials said they shouldn't go into effect until next June.

The next open house is set for Thursday, March 3, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Landmark Resort in Myrtle Beach.

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