Updated FEMA flood maps in Horry County could be approved in early 2020

Updated: Jul. 9, 2019 at 8:54 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - According to Federal Emergency Management Agency, buying flood insurance is one of most important steps people can take to protect the life and home they’ve built.

However, some Horry County residents aren’t sure what type of protection they need.

Pete Paredes, who has lived in Rosewood Estates for several decades, never once thought about flood insurance until Hurricane Matthew put his house several feet underwater.

“This area where I am right now is not considered a flood zone, it’s ‘being considered’ to be a flood zone but not quite yet,” said Paredes.

Paredes’ homes is one of thousands Horry County leaders and FEMA are trying to determine just how flood-prone the property is.

According to Horry County, the FEMA flood maps are anticipated to be available for review this fall, meaning it could be 2020 before the maps are formally approved by Horry County Council.

“We go ahead and quote flood even if they don’t ask for it, we let them know what their zone is and what that property means from what we’ve seen so they can make an educated decision,” said Amanda Vibbert, an insurance broker with Moore and Associates.

Following Hurricane Matthew, Paredes added flood insurance coverage and said waiting for county council to approve those maps has taken way too long.

“They know that the water is coming. If there’s another hurricane and it gets close to land we’re going to flood again and they know that,” said Paredes.

With the help of Samaritans Purse, Paredes is one of several homes being elevated six feet, free of all cost.

“We were very happy and very thankful we’ve thanked them over and over again because it’s very unusual,” he said.

While not everyone’s home can be elevated, Vibbert encourages all homeowners to be educated and don’t put it off before it’s too late.

“They may have been told they’re not in a flood zone, which is incorrect, they may not be in a high-risk zone but they are still in a flood zone,” said Vibbert.

According to FEMA, flooding is one of the largest uninsured risks in the nation and following what many residents experienced last year, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

“If it rains, it can flood,” said Vibbert.

Paredes home is expected to be lifted six feet off the ground in the coming weeks.

All homeowners and renters are eligible and encouraged by FEMA to purchase flood insurance, no matter where they live.

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