Know Your Flood Hazard
Because the City of North Myrtle Beach is located on the coast, it is subject to flooding from the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, and also to inland flooding from the Waccamaw River and other rivers and streams.
Are You Located in a Flood Zone?
Flood maps, known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), show areas of high, moderate, and low flood risk.
- Identify your flood zone using our Interactive City Map. Navigate to your address using the search bar at the top of the screen, then select, “Current FEMA Flood Zones,” from the layer list. You can change the data shown on the map by selecting various other layers, such as parcels, or choosing a different map background. (To identify your flood zone, you may need to turn off the, “Zoning,” layer in the layer list.)
- City Floodplain Elevation Certificates: Available in the Planning & Development Department; call (843)280-5560 to access a copy of your floodplain elevation certificate.
- Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper: This tool from NOAA.gov shows the people, places, and natural resources exposed to coastal flooding.
Types of Flood Hazards
- Storm surge is a type of flooding experienced from the effects of a tropical storm or hurricane. Along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane. As a storm approaches, water is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds, causing flooding along the coast. Storm surge can also affect the levels of rivers and waterways, which can also lead to flooding.
- Heavy rain can also contribute to flooding in our area. Though often associated with tropical storms, heavy rains can happen throughout the year, putting property at risk. Cresting rivers, backed-up storm drains, and saturated ground all contribute to significant flooding when there is an excessive amount of rainfall. If the rain occurs for long periods or if we have a system that dumps a lot of rain in a short period of time often time we can see localized flooding in certain areas.
- Tidal flooding is the temporary inundation of low-lying areas, especially streets, during exceptionally high tide events, such as at full and new moons.
- Wildfire flooding: Because we have areas of our City that can be subject to wildfire, flooding after fire is another important flood hazard. After a wildfire, the charred ground where vegetation has burned away cannot easily absorb rainwater. This increases the risk of flooding.
- Combination events: It is not uncommon for a combination of flooding events to affect our City.
Important Past Floods
Download Your FEMA FIRM Panels:
- Download Your FEMA FIRM panel here (pdf file format):
- View FIRMs at FEMA.gov
Insure Your Property for Your Flood Hazard
- Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. If you are in a flood hazard area or in an area subject to flooding, purchase federal flood insurance. Flood insurance provides coverage for damage to structures and contents from flooding, flood-related erosion, and flood-caused mudslides.
- Because the City participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), flood insurance is available in the CIty of North Myrtle Beach. Any house in an NFIP-participating community can be covered by a flood insurance policy, even if the house is not in the mapped floodplain. NFIP flood insurance policies can only be purchased for properties within communities that participate in the NFIP.
- The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- When you purchase or renew a flood insurance policy, there is typically 30-day waiting period for that policy to go into effect.
- The City of North Myrtle Beach is an active participant in the Community Rating System (CRS). This program is voluntary, and determines a discount (from 5-40%) on flood insurance rates based on activities performed by the community. The City of North Myrtle Beach is a CRS Class 6 community, and our residents receive a 20% reduction on our local flood insurance premiums.
Flood Insurance Coverage Facts
- Check your policy carefully; separate coverage can be obtained for a building’s structure and its contents.
- Some banks or mortgage providers may require flood insurance, but these institutions generally only require coverage for the building’s structure.
- Renters can buy contents coverage policies to protect their personal property, even if the property owner does not buy structural coverage for the building.
Where Can I Purchase Flood Insurance
- Any insurance agent can sell a flood insurance policy; all agents must charge the same rates. Contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at (888)379-9531 to request an agent referral.
- For homes subject to a lower flood risk, a Preferred Risk Policy can offer multiple coverage combinations for structure and contents.
- FloodSmart.gov provides more information about the NFIP and where/how you can purchase flood insurance.
- Find local insurance agents at this link.
Protect People from Flooding
Turn Around Don’t Drown:
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than any other storm-related hazard. Over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult; just 12 inches of rushing water can carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
Flood Warning Signals:
Stay connected to always be ready for a flood. Flood warning signals include heavy rainfall, fast flowing and rising streams/rivers, consecutive storms, and pooling water along streets or in low-lying areas.
- A flood watch means conditions are favorable for a flood or flash flood. During a flood watch, plan for the possibility of a flood and stay connected to the local news, weather channel, or radio station for the latest information.
- A flood warning means a flood/flash flood is occurring or imminent. Protect yourself and others from the flood and evacuate immediately if advised.
Know Your Zone: Evacuation Routes and Shelters
- Know Your Zone information page
- Know Your Zone Guide (pdf)
- Horry County Evacuation Zone Map showing Routes and Shelters
- Evacuation Route Map
- Hurricane Evacuation Zones in the City of North Myrtle Beach
- Zone A: All areas east of US 17 to the northern county line and all mobile home residents within Horry County
- Zone C: All areas east of Highway 31 (Carolina Bays Parkway) to Hwy 90 and all areas east of Highway 90 to US 7 to the northern county line
- The City of North Myrtle Beach uses the Horry County Emergency Management Plan
Evacuation Safety Tips:
- Prepare NOW:
- 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.
- If flash flooding is a risk in your location, then monitor potential signs, such as heavy rain.
- Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response. The evacuation route from the City of North Myrtle Beach and points northward is to take SC 9 north to I-95 and beyond.
- Make sure your family has a safe designated meeting place in case you are separated.
- Build an emergency kit
- Gather supplies in case you have to leave immediately, or if services are cut off. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets. Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
- Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and can protect the life you’ve built. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies.
- Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery.
- Survive DURING:
- Depending on where you are, and the impact and the warning time of flooding, go to the safe location that you previously identified.
- If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
- Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown!
- Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Fast-moving water can wash bridges away without warning.
- If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, then stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof.
- If trapped in a building, then go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Go on the roof only if necessary. Once there, signal for help.
- Be Safe AFTER:
- Listen to authorities for information and instructions. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Avoid driving, except in emergencies.
- Snakes and other animals may be in your house. Wear heavy gloves and boots during clean up.
- Be aware of the risk of electrocution. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock.
- Avoid wading in floodwater, which can contain dangerous debris and be contaminated. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
- Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery ONLY outdoors and away from windows.
During a Mandatory Evacuation
- Tune in to local radio or television stations. A Weather Alert Radio can help you stay informed of changing conditions.
- Keep your vehicle’s fuel tank as full as possible. In an evacuation, gas may not be readily available.
- Have enough cash for a few days; ATM’s may not work during a power outage, and stores might not be able to process debit and credit cards. Be sure to have plenty of small bills, as it may be difficult to get change.
- Fill necessary prescriptions, and stock up on any necessary medical supplies.
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways; two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.
- Avoid low-lying areas. Seek shelter in the highest areas possible.
Safety Tips for Buildings
- Unplug electrical equipment and small appliances.
- Turn off gas, electricity, and water to your home.
- Shut off the electricity at the circuit breakers.
- Secure your home: lock all doors and windows.
- Seal vents to basements to prevent flooding.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
- If a building was flooded, check for safety before entering.
- Do not enter a building if it is still flooded or surrounded by floodwater.
- Check for structural damage. Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.
- Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter tank.
- Do not enter a building that has flooded until local building officials have inspected it for safety.
- Use extreme caution when entering buildings.
- Wear sturdy shoes. The most common injury following a disaster is cut feet.
- Use ONLY battery-powered lighting. Flammable material may be present.
- Look for fire hazards (such as damaged gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces).
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. If possible turn off the gas at the outside main valve. Call the gas company.
- Report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
- Check for electrical system damage (sparks, broken or frayed wires, or the smell of burning insulation). Turn off the electricity at the main circuit breaker if you can reach it without stepping in water.
- Examine walls, floors, doors, windows, and ceilings for risk of collapsing.
- Watch out for animals that might have entered with the floodwaters.
- Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.
Areas Predicted to Flood During a Hurricane
Protect Your Property from Flooding
Importance of Maintaining the Drainage System
When it rains, street drains help to keep neighborhoods from flooding. When leaves collect in gutters and block these drains, water can back up and cause ponding that slows or stops traffic and can even flood yards and homes. While autumn is when leaves are most likely to collect in drains, it can happen at any time of the year. City crews work hard to maintain all of the City’s drainage infrastructure, including storm drains on streets. However, we need your help too. You can help prevent flooding by paying attention to what’s happening with the drains on your block. A few small maintenance actions on your property can also prevent stormwater from ponding.
- Keep leaves and debris out of drains.
- Avoid piling yard waste like fallen leaves and sticks in your yard, where it could wash into City drains. Keep it in a yard waste bin or other container.
- Use a rake or broom to remove leaves and debris from the tops of storm drains, and then place the material in your yard waste cart.
- Maintain your gutters and downspouts.
- Clean the gutters and drainage downspouts attached to your roof twice a year. Just one wind or rainstorm can clog a well-flowing drainage system.
- Inspect for leaks or damage to rain gutters that could cause a flat roof to flood.
- Direct flows from downspouts away from your foundation, without discharging flows to adjacent properties.
- Never discharge water over the edge of a steep hill.
- Maintain your drainage systems. Maintaining the drainage system on private property is the owner’s responsibility.
- Check your property’s drainage system. This is especially important on commercial properties that have catch basins or other drainage systems. Maintaining these systems is the property owner’s responsibility. The best way to find out what’s in your pipes is to ask a professional to “video inspect” your underground drainage system.
- If you have a driveway that leads down from the street, be sure to clear the drain at the bottom of the slope.
- If you live at the base of a hill or on a cliff, ensure that drainage and retaining walls are properly functioning.
Respect the City’s Drainage System
- Don’t put grass clippings, leaves or other debris into any of the drains, ditches, creeks, culverts, gutters or ravines in the city.
- Do not store furniture or other items like firewood, fuel tanks, containers and loose items in your yard, as floodwaters can wash these items into culverts and cause flooding.
- It is against the law to dump or to allow any material to enter the drainage system, as it leads to blockages.
- To report illegal dumping into the City’s stormwater system, call Jay Beeson in the Public Works Department at (843) 280-5588.
Protect Your Property from Wind/Hurricane Damage
Nonstructural Protective Measures
To protect against wind damage without making any structural changes to a building, you can:
- Identify and remove trees and branches that could fall on the building walls or roof, or on power lines.
- Identify and repair loose or damaged building components such as siding, soffit and fascia, shingles and roofing, brickwork, and brick chimneys.
A hurricane brings torrential rain, and severe rainstorms may accompany a tornado. Buildings damaged by wind often suffer water damage as well. Water driven by hurricane-force wind can enter through usually rain-tight openings, and rain entering through a damaged roof can lay waste to the inside of a building. Make sure that items such as important documents and irreplaceable personal objects such as photographs are stored in a safe location, preferably in watertight containers. Consider putting extra cash and important papers in a safe deposit box at your bank.
Hurricane warnings are issued about 24 hours before the hurricane is predicted to hit your area. If your area is under a hurricane warning:
- Move breakable items away from doors and windows.
- Board up doors and windows.
- Bring in outdoor furniture and other personal property kept outdoors.
- Secure manufactured home anchors.
- Secure outbuildings.
- Secure or move boats.
- Turn off propane tanks.
Structural Protective Measures
The roof, doors, and windows of your house or place of business are potentially vulnerable to wind damage. When houses are exposed to hurricane forces, roofs are most susceptible to damage, followed by walls and openings.
Roofs can be protected from wind damage by:
- Ensuring that plywood roof sheathing is properly installed.
- Bracing roof trusses.
- Installing hurricane straps.
You can strengthen doors and windows by
- Installing reinforcing bolt kits at the top and bottom of doors.
- Reinforcing garage doors.
- Installing storm shutters over windows.
Protecting Your Place of Business
When a place of business is damaged, the business owner faces the cost to repair
or replace the building(s). In addition, the business can suffer loss of inventory,
business interruption, and loss of wages for employees.
Structural measures recommended to protect your place of business from wind damage are
- Use threaded fasteners to attach metal roof decking. Welds are often unable to carry uplift loads.
- In tornado-prone areas, use enhanced wind design for roof coverings on essential buildings.
- Use adequate ties to foundations and roofs when reinforcing concrete and partially reinforced masonry.
- Make ties between concrete and other materials with drilled-in fasteners or cast-in-place fasteners.
- Engineer and construct masonry walls to support the specific architecture of the building (i.e., exterior wall panels, parapets, and decorative finishes). Diaphragm action to resist wind-generated shear forces must be maintained and reinforcement must be properly placed in concrete and masonry walls to reduce the possibility of collapse during high wind storms.
- Use anchors in precast concrete buildings to prevent the uplift of hollow core planks and other precast elements during high winds.
- Avoid the use of powder-driven anchors to attach bottom plates of walls to concrete unless the anchors are very closely spaced to resist pull-out.
- Minimize the creation of windborne debris by appropriately designing, manufacturing, and installing architectural features.
Permanently Retrofit a Building
Retrofitting means making changes to an existing building to protect it from flooding or other hazards such as high winds and earthquakes. FEMA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways To Protect Your Home From Flooding, provides detailed information that will help you decide whether your house is a candidate for retrofitting. The guide helps by describing six retrofitting methods that protect your house from flooding.
- Elevation is raising your home so that the lowest floor is above the flood level. This is the most common way to avoid flood damage.
- Wet floodproofing makes uninhabited parts of your home resistant to flood damage when water is allowed to enter during flooding.
- Relocation means moving your home to higher ground where the exposure to flooding is eliminated altogether.
- Dry floodproofing is sealing your home to prevent flood waters from entering.
- Levee and floodwall protection means constructing barriers to prevent flood waters from entering your home.
- Demolition means razing your home and rebuilding properly on the same property or buying a home elsewhere.
Emergency Floodproofing Measures
Emergency measures are temporary measures that are implemented between the flood warning and the flood event to protect the building from floodwaters. Sandbags, temporary flood barriers, and flood wrapping systems are common emergency flood protection measures.
- Sandbags: Temporary walls constructed of sandbags can be used to protect structures from flooding or provide additional height to existing levee systems when floodwaters reach critical levels. Typical sandbags are constructed of plastic or treated burlap bags approximately 14 inches wide and 24 inches long and are filled with sand or other fine-grained soils. Because of the intensive effort and amount of time required to provide protection even from relatively shallow water, sandbag walls are not a reliable protection measure. To be effective, sandbags and sand should be stockpiled and checked regularly to ensure that the sandbags have not deteriorated. Sand and/or filled sandbags stored unprotected out of doors in cold weather climates may freeze and be rendered unusable. The disadvantages of sandbags are high disposal costs and a tendency to absorb pollutants from contaminated floodwaters, which necessitates their disposal as hazardous waste.
- Temporary Flood Barriers: A number of vendors make temporary flood barriers that can be assembled relatively easily, moved into place, anchored, and filled with water or sand. The barriers must be sized for the site, and training and annual drills are important so personnel know how to deploy the barriers. Proper storage,
including cleaning after deployment, is necessary to protect the materials over long periods. In 2006, FM Approvals published FM Standard 2510, Approval Standard for Flood Abatement Equipment (FM Approvals 2006). The current FM Approvals test protocols are for self-supporting, temporary barriers designed to protect against riverine flood depths up to 3 feet. These barriers are not tested for coastal flooding applications, where the presence of saltwater may hinder their performance. Because saltwater is denser than freshwater, a barrier filled with freshwater in a coastal location may float instead of providing protection against flooding
- Flood Wrapping Systems: Flood wrapping systems are temporary emergency measures consisting of plastic or other synthetic waterproof sheeting material that is used to seal a building to prevent water intrusion during the flood duration. Wrapping systems present different challenges from impervious wall systems: they need to be anchored, stored, and repaired. Flood wraps benefit from barrier reinforcement such as sandbags or plywood walls and should generally be able to withstand the pressure of 3 feet of water for a limited period. Wrapping systems rely on the existing walls, which may need to be strengthened to resist flood loads, but they also need to bridge openings such as
doors and windows, which typically require some type of temporary reinforcement to support the portion of the wrapping system that spans the openings. The area of openings and the flood protection level should be considered when selecting the wrapping material. When using flood wrapping material, refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for depth of flooding limitations, reinforcement requirements, and applicability with existing construction materials at the openings.
- City of North Myrtle Beach Ordinance dealing with Flood Damage Control
- All floodplain development needs a local permit. The Building Division of the Planning & Development Department issues all City permits. The address of the Building Division is 1018 Second Avenue South, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582, and the office can be reached at (843) 280-5560.
- To report illegal floodplain development, please call John Hill at (843) 280-5568.
Rules for New Construction:
- AE flood zone: All buildings shall be elevated so the lowest floor is located not less than twelve inches above the level of base flood
- VE flood zone: All buildings shall be elevated so the bottom of the lowest supporting horizontal member is located not less than twelve inches above the level of base flood
- Mobile homes located in a flood zone: Platform for the air conditioning condenser shall be constructed not less than twelve inches above the level of base flood
- Proper height must be verified by a finished construction elevation certificate
Rules for Substantial Improvement:
Floodplain management requirements for new construction apply to substantial improvements. This affects any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the “start of construction” of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred “substantial damage,” regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either:
- Any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions, or
- Any alterations of a “historic structure,” provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure’s continued designation as a “historic structure.”
Rules for Substantial Damage:
Substantial Damage applies to a structure in a floodplain for which the total cost of repairs is 50 percent or more of the structure’s market value before the disaster occurred, regardless of the cause of damage.
- If a building in a floodplain is determined to be substantially damaged, it must be brought into compliance with local floodplain-management regulations:
- Owners who decide to rebuild may need to elevate their structures, or change them in some other way to comply with those local floodplain regulations and avoid future losses;
- Owners of non-residential structures may need to flood-proof their buildings.
- Property owners who have a FEMA flood-insurance policy and a substantially damaged building in a Special Flood Hazard Area may be able to use additional funds from their policy (up to $30,000) to help defray the costs of elevating, relocating or demolishing a structure. For more information on this provision – known as Increased Cost of Compliance – contact your insurance agent.
Protect Natural Floodplain Functions
- Understanding and protecting the natural functions of floodplains helps reduce flood damage and protect resources. As flooding spreads out across a floodplain, the energy from the flooding dissipates resulting in lower downstream flooding, reduced erosion of streambanks and channels, the deposition of fertile sediments higher in the watershed, and improved groundwater recharge
- Floodplains are scenic, valued as wildlife habitat, and suitable for farming
- Poorly planned floodplain development leads to streambank erosion, property loss, increased flooding risk, and decreased water quality.
- Activities that disturb beachfront and saltwater wetlands should first obtain permits from the SCDHEC Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM)
- Any disturbance of freshwater wetlands requires a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers and certification from SCDHEC Office of OCRM
- SCDHEC Office of Beachfront Management
- American Rivers website
- Waccamaw Riverkeeper Program
The beach is generally wide and flat with a well‐developed berm and a system of small dunes (1‐2’ in height) vegetated with native species (Sea Oats and native grasses/forbs). Shoreline stabilization structures are present over approximately 3 miles of shoreline (approximately 16,000 ft. of seawall, 2,200 ft. of bulkhead, and 100 ft. of riprap) and are currently protected from exposure to waves and near shore processes by a berm and dune system in most places.
Oceanfront dunes serve as a buffer against minor wave height fluctuations and beach erosion
Cherry Grove Marsh
Cherry Grove Marsh serves as another nursery and breeding ground for a variety of plants and animals. Birds, including herons and egrets, live in the saltwater marsh and feed on fish and shrimp that live in the marsh. Smooth Cord Grass (Spartina alternatiflora) is present here, too. Most of the marine life is dependent on decomposing detritus from the salt marsh for their food supply. In 2002, the Pew Oceans Commission published Marine Reserves, explaining that coastal development and the loss of such estuarine nurseries was a major threat to the world’s oceans and fish and shellfish stocks.
White Point Estuary
White Point Estuary Swash is a coastal estuary ecosystem located near the southeast end of the city. This area is relatively open and is dominated by Smooth
Cord Grass. Recognized on maps from the National Wetlands Inventory, this type of ecosystem is extremely valuable as a nursery for many species of marine fish, including
many that have commercial and recreational value. Some examples of important Atlantic Ocean fish species dependent upon the estuary in the early part of their lives are
Flounder, Spot, Drum, Croaker, Menhaden, Mullet, and Kingfish. Because the estuary is nearly surrounded by development, the ecological value of the swash may be somewhat limited. The hydrology of this estuary is particularly sensitive to its surrounding landscape; increasing the amount of impervious surfaces in adjacent areas leads to increased runoff that can erode soils. Runoff can also carry pollutants that may harm susceptible species of fish and other aquatic life.
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW)
Authorized by Congress in 1919, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some lengths consist
of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds; other lengths include constructed canals. Within the city there are natural inlets, saltwater rivers, and canals. The AICW
provides a navigable route safe from many of the hazards inherent to travel on the open sea. In our community, the AICW is primarily used by recreational boaters and fishermen. There is increasing interest in water trails offering an eco-tourism experience attractive to paddle sports enthusiasts. An important natural resource, the AICW connects the City from its southern boundary to Hog Inlet at the North.