It’s Your Money: Cost of updating Horry County flood maps

It’s Your Money: Cost of updating flood maps

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County hired Arcadis in 2016 to assist with appealing the flood maps FEMA proposed.

At the time, county officials questioned the accuracy of the models FEMA used.

“We just felt like there was significant errors. They were using the same water surface elevation in the river from Georgetown all the way up to Conway and that just doesn’t make common sense,” explained Horry County stormwater manager Tom Garigen.

Garigen said to ensure the county had the best maps, it decided to take on an additional expense by hiring Arcadis.

“You can’t just say, ‘We think they’re wrong.’ We have to prove that they are wrong and that’s why the county had to go through that expense,” he said.

Arcadis, is an international company that works on a multitude of projects for cities from transportation to resiliency plans, according to its website.

The county’s check register reveals the county paid the company $157,000 from July 2016 until March 2019.

Garigen said the county needed to hire an outside company because of the complexity of the modeling.

Recently, FEMA released 2019 proposed flood zones after using a different computer model. Many of the significant changes in zones are seen in Bucksport, Arrowhead and near Conway.

Garigen said these revisions accurately predicted what flooded during Hurricane Florence.

He did send back a few revisions to FEMA including to areas along Palmetto Point Boulevard, Forestbrook Road and around the Arrowhead area.

Leaders still predict it will be another year before the maps are adopted.

“Currently on a holding pattern to see if there will be any appeals and see what the outcome of those will be and then council should be able to move forward with that,” said county councilman Al Allen.

The public will have 90 days to file an appeal between January and March. Appeals will slow down the process but once those are sorted out county council will have six months to adopt the changes.

The county does not need to have public meetings like it did when the maps were initially proposed years ago.

How the changes in flood zones impact development will be up to the county council.

“Once the maps are made permanent, certificated, we don’t want to have extreme development inside a flood zone and folks will be made aware before they purchase or build on it that it is inside an active flood zone," Allen explained.

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