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Although flooding has been an issue since the founding of Charleston, a recent study shows that it’s only going to get worse over the next three decades.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly 8,000 homes in Charleston County could flood at least twenty-six times per year in the next three decades if the sea level rises by just two feet.
According to Kristina Dahl, Senior Climate Scientist for the nonprofit, the study highlights the near-term threat to properties and it puts 29928, Hilton Head, and 29455, Johns Island, among top zip codes nationally for the highest number of homes that will frequently flood by 2045. Charleston’s lower peninsula is right behind these two areas and will also see a large number of routinely flooded properties.
Within 30 years Johns Island, Seabrook, Kiawah and the lower peninsula could see a total of 3,088 homes flooded, possibly making them eventually unsellable.
The flooding would be detrimental to the Charleston area, and as a senior analyst for the Climate & Energy Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists Erika Spanger-Siegfried, pointed out, there are only three ways to approach a rising sea level.
The increased flooding would displace roughly 24,000 people, drastically decrease property values and possibly lead to huge problems for the housing market and tourism economy.
As residents continue to experience increasingly worse flooding from recent storms a push for a solution becomes critical. Elizabeth Boineau, whose lower peninsula home received 8 inches of water from Tropical Storm Irma, the home’s third time flooding in three years, said the flooding has been an enormous drain emotionally.
One thing this study does not address is the monumental problems flooding will cause to an already stressed infrastructure system. What Charleston also needs is new road designs that will be resilient to this issue of sea level rise. Lockwood Blvd., Main Road, Central Park Road, Morrison Drive and Murray Blvd are all heavily impacted when it floods in the Holy City. The real solution is that these streets need to eventually be elevated.
Plans are already in place for areas along the Ashley River with large pumping stations being installed at the edge, and along the Battery where the seawall is being rebuilt on the southern edge.
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