Floods can happen anywhere, anytime. Just one inch of water in a home can cause more than $25,000 worth of damage. 

Naturally occurring events, including hurricanes, storm surges, high tides, and heavy rains, may cause flooding in the Town of Hilton Head Island. Being prepared is the best defense against damage from flooding and other disasters. 

As a municipality governing a coastal community, we must inform our residents and business owners about the need to obtain and retain flood insurance for their property, especially since most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Unfortunately, many property owners do not know about the lack of coverage until it is too late. 

Protecting your most important financial assets – your home, business, and possessions – is essential. Flood insurance is a separate policy that can cover buildings and their contents. Whether you rent or own, ensure you have coverage covering your personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture, and appliances.

Where to find flood insurance. The Town of Hilton Head Island takes part in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes flood insurance available to you, regardless of your flood zone. Flood insurance policies typically take 30 days to go into effect. It is best to learn about the extent of your coverage long before a disaster strikes. 

The National Flood Insurance Program, managed by FEMA, is delivered to the public by a network of more than 50 insurance companies and NFIP Direct. Having coverage from the NFIP helps property owners, renters, and businesses recover faster when floodwaters recede. 

In addition, the NFIP works with communities required to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations that help mitigate flooding effects. FEMA defines a floodplain as any land area susceptible to being inundated with floodwater from any source.

Floodplain management has its benefits. The Town has actively participated in FEMA’s Community Rating System program since 1991. This program rates communities on how effectively they manage their floodplains in four major categories: Public information, mapping and regulatory standards, flood damage reduction and flood preparedness.

Implementing good floodplain management practices has helped the Town receive a Class 5 rating from the Community Rating System. This rating allows Hilton Head Island property owners to receive up to a 25 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums.

Need help understanding floodplain issues? Flood elevation, flood insurance rate maps, and other floodplain issues are complex. But the Town is here to help break down those complexities. Our certified floodplain managers are available to speak with you on various topics related to floodplain issues. 

If you have questions or concerns about flood risks, please contact our Floodplain Administrator, Shari Mendrick, at 843-341-4687 or by email at sharim@hiltonheadislandsc.gov. In addition, the Flood Hazard Guide section of our website (hiltonheadislandsc.gov/flood) provides detailed information on how to protect yourself and your property against flooding. 

Alan Perry is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. AlanP@hiltonheadislandsc.gov