Time is running out for Horry County to appeal FEMA flood maps

Published: July 11, 2016

By Abbey O’Brien

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – This is the last week for Horry County to file an appeal of the recently released FEMA flood maps. The maps have caused controversy in the area because FEMA’s new flood zones could cause thousands of people to pay thousands of dollars in flood insurance. Senior environmental scientist, Stephen Williams, has followed the project from the beginning and says the FEMA maps are not accurate representations of Horry County.

“The way they’ve constructed the model has some inaccuracies that really should be resolved and redone before they make the kinds of interpretations of flooding along the waterway in Waccamaw based on the Pee Dee River,” said Williams. 

He said FEMA studied the Pee Dee River and used that information to generalize water levels in the Waccamaw River south of Conway and the Intracoastal Waterway. Because they didn’t study the other two rivers, many residents of Horry County are now in flood zones when they never were before. Being in a flood zone means many of them will have to buy flood insurance that could cost more than $7,000 a year. If the maps are not appealed by the county, residents in the Harbour Town community will be greatly affected. Boyd Cooke has lived there for more than a decade and says he doesn’t want change. Cooke has flood insurance and hopes he will be “grandfathered” into keeping similar rates, but others in the neighborhood could see huge flood insurance costs.

“A lot of people can’t afford it. It’s an extra insurance on top of your home owners, your liability and your wind and hail so you’ve got a policy and policy and a policy,” added Cooke.

Other neighbors said if the maps don’t change, people may have to move because they could not afford the insurance rates. News13 was told the county is working on an appeal, but we have no further details at this time. When they are available, News13 will bring them to you.