The City of Florence is committed to becoming resistant to disasters. We coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies to mitigate environmental hazards that have the potential to affect personal safety and property. Residents are encouraged to gain familiarity with flood protection. Please read the information below about local flood prevention measures and available public and private resources.
Floods, Flood Insurance, and Flood Protection Information Provided by the City of Florence
The City of Florence and Florence County participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and are responsible for managing developments within the areas subject to a 1% or greater annual chance of flooding (previously known as the 100-year floodplain). The City of Florence goes beyond the minimum NFIP requirements and participates in the Community Rating System which means a 20% flood insurance premium reduction for City residents.
FEMA maps showing floodplains are available in the City of Florence Planning, Research & Development Department, 324 W. Evans Street; in the Florence County Municipal Planning and Building Inspections Department, 518 S. Irby Street, Florence and at the Florence County Public Library. FEMA has released revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps that were adopted by the City by December 16, 2014. In addition to the revised floodplain, these maps incorporate current road and parcel information. You may also use the FEMA Map Service Center website to preview a flood map from an address search.
Local Flood Hazards
The relatively flat terrain of Florence puts many areas at risk of flooding, even those not close to rivers and streams. Severe flooding occurred along Jeffries Creek in 1916 and 1945. More recently, flooding caused problems in the winters of 1994, 1998, the summer of 2004, and the falls of 2015 and 2016. The main flood season for the Pee Dee Region is in the Summer and Fall, also the time of greatest risk from hurricanes and their associated rainfall.
Florence has developed a flood warning system that will be disseminated by commercial radio, T.V., NOAA weather radio, and by police and fire vehicles equipped with public address systems. Local TV stations include WBTW-13, WPDE-15, WMBF, WFXB & WJPM, and the Government Access Cable Channel 11. Local radio stations include FM stations 1005.5 WHLZ, 102.1 WMXT, 105.5 WDAR & 106.3 WYNN, and AM stations 1400 WJMX, 540 WYNN and 1230 WOLS.
Most of Florence's floodplain areas are unlikely to experience fast-moving floodwater; however, slow moving water can still be dangerous. Just 24" of water can float a car, and most people who die in floods are trapped in flooded cars; so remember, turn around, don't drown.
Keep children out of floodwater, especially where they can be sucked into storm drains. Moving water that is only 2-3 feet deep is a threat to adults and a serious risk for children. If your home or business is in the floodplain, pay close attention to flood predictions and have a plan in place. For safety’s sake, you may be asked to evacuate.
There are several actions you can take to mitigate the flood hazard including:
- Know the flood warning procedures.
- Plan escape route to high ground.
- During times of heavy rainfall, monitor water levels. Stay tuned to radio and TV for flood warnings.
- Keep children away from floodwaters, ditches, culverts, and storm drains.
- Do not attempt to cross a flooding stream on foot or by car.
- If your car stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Turn off electricity and gas if evacuation is necessary.
- Move valuable furniture, carpets, and small appliances to the second floor.
- Take permanent steps like raising an outside heat pump on a platform
Buy Flood Insurance
Your homeowner’s insurance does not cover losses due to flooding. The City of Florence participates in the National Flood Insurance Program which makes flood insurance available through your insurance agent. The City of Florence also participates in the Community Rating System which entitles all City residents to up to a 20% reduction in their flood insurance premiums.
You do not have to live in a floodplain to purchase flood insurance or to be at risk from flooding, you can purchase flood insurance at the lower Preferred Risk Rate. Approximately 25% of all flood insurance claims nationwide are from “low-risk” areas that are not in the mapped floodplains. Separate coverage for both structures and contents is available. There is a 30 day waiting period before coverage becomes effective. To learn more about flood insurance or locate a nearby provider, please visit the Floodsmart website. Also, check out the FEMA publication Answers to Questions About Flood Insurance.
Take Measures to Protect Your Property
Flood prone structures should be elevated to minimize flood damage. Our local flood ordinance requires the finished floor level of new construction in the mapped floodplain to be elevated to one foot above the Base Flood Elevation. An Elevation Certificate is required to verify this elevation and to obtain flood insurance. The following FEMA publications provide further information regarding the protection of your property from flood damage:
Elevation Certificates are required for construction in the mapped floodplain. The lowest finished floor must be elevated one foot above the Base Flood Elevation as shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Copies of all Elevation Certificates are maintained on file.
Floodplain Development Permit Requirements
A permit is required to do any of the following in a floodplain: build, rebuild, bring in fill dirt, excavate, add onto your home or business, install an underground or above-ground tank, subdivide land, and place accessory buildings and temporary structures.
Contact the City of Florence Department of Planning, Research, and Development at 843 665-2047 or the City of Florence Building Department at 843-665-3151 for permit information. If you see work in a floodplain, call to see if the necessary permits have been obtained, we all need to help protect our floodplains.
Substantial Improvements/ Damages
If improvements or additions to a building in the floodplain equal or exceed 50% of the market value before the start of the improvements, the whole building must meet the same construction standards for a new building. This includes structures which have incurred substantial damage, regardless of the actual repair work performed.
Flood Protection Assistance
The City of Florence offers floodplain residents general technical assistance for those interested in protecting their homes from flooding. Certified floodplain managers are available to provide information on local flood hazards and provide resources for more details, stormwater management staff offer general advice on local drainage issues.
Drainage System Maintenance
The City of Florence requires that every proposed development must have a drainage system designed by a registered engineer to provide for the proper drainage of surface water and to permit the unimpeded flow of natural watercourses. The City also has stormwater maintenance staff who regularly inspect and maintain ditches and streams. Debris can impede the flow of water which in turn causes overflow onto streets and properties.
In the City of Florence Code of Ordinance, Sec. 9-20 Littering, no person shall dump or dispose of litter upon any public or private property including streams, ditches and catch basins within the City limits. Don't pour pollutants into the storm drainage system, violations are subject to fines. Violations should be reported to the Public Works Department at 843-665-3236.
Protect the Floodplain
Floodplains serve many useful purposes, and those that are preserved in their natural state provide a wide range of benefits. They serve as natural drainage basins which hold, filter, and disperse floodwaters as well as contribute to maintaining water quality and providing wildlife habitats. The City preserves several passive park areas in the floodplain in Jeffries Creek Park, Timrod Park, and the Pettigrew Millpond and has established an Environmental Protection Overlay District along Jeffries Creek to protect water quality and preserve the natural habitat. Do your part to protect these sensitive areas by not littering and preventing excessive and/or polluted runoff from your property. The following FEMA publication provides further information regarding the protection of this vital resource:
Protecting Floodplain Resources
This information is provided as a service by the City of Florence. Inquiries related to flooding issues should be made to the City of Florence Planning, Research & Development Department, 324 W. Evans Street at 843-665-2047.
Other Helpful Links
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has many helpful guides to understanding the nature of flood hazards and mitigation efforts within the State. Their website can be accessed by clicking here. SCDNR
Most of us have probably heard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA provides many resources that we here in Florence can benefit from. FEMA’s website offers a chance to explore the agency and its effects both nationally and locally. FEMA
Check out real-time water levels of our Jeffries Creek here National Water Dashboard.