Continuing our discussions about flood insurance and flood map changes, let’s focus on Berkeley County. Not a place we think of as being flood prone but there are a couple of areas that will be affected by the new flood maps, to be effective for Berkeley County on December 7, 2018. I wonder if this being Pearl Harbor Day has any significance in FEMA’s thinking?!
One area in Berkeley County being affected is Pimlico Subdivision, located on the western branch of the Cooper River off Cypress Gardens Road. There are several hundred homes in the community, all downstream from the Pinopolis Dam on Lake Moultrie. Ninety percent of the area is now located in the low risk flood zone X but many of these homes are being moved to the AE zone. These homeowners moving to the AE zone, if they have a mortgage on the home, will be required to obtain a flood insurance policy. The procedure for doing so was discussed in the August issue of the Mercury and that article can also be found in our blog section. Go to About Us tab, the Our Blog tab, and see the blog dated August 8, 2018.
The second area being affected is Daniel Island. Yes, even though much of the area is in the City of Charleston, it is Berkeley County! The current flood maps for Daniel Island show the gamut of flood zones – X, AE and VE, with AE being the most common zone.
The new flood maps still show the three flood zone but some homes now in the AE zone have been moved to the X flood zone. Good news for those property owners! And more good news -some homes in the VE zone are being moved to the AE zone.
Perhaps the change that will affect most residents on Daniel Island is the lowering of the Base Flood Elevation. The BFE is the height above mean sea level that all buildings are required to be built in order to comply with building codes. The current maps show the BFE in AE zones to be in the 12-foot to 14-foot range. The new maps have lowered the BFE to the 10, 11, and 12-foot range. Thus, the required elevation will generally be two feet lower.
So why is a lower BFE important? One of the factors used in rating a flood policy is the difference between the BFE and the actual first floor elevation of the home and the greater the positive difference between them, the lower the flood insurance premium.
For example, your home was built several years ago at the required BFE of 13 feet. Thus, the difference between the actual first floor elevation and the BFE was zero. The new flood maps change the BFE to 11 feet. Now your home has a positive difference of 2 feet (13 – 11 = +2). And your flood premium will be less!!
One caveat here, there is no difference in the rates for positive elevation differences of + 4 feet or higher.
So long for now.
Henry Lowndes Jr.