As Horry County and the Myrtle Beach area have grown rapidly in recent years and decades, some newcomers have been devastated to find that the home they bought is susceptible to flood waters.
Be it a surge of water from a storm or heavy rain, or flooding from the Waccamaw River or Intracoastal Waterway, flooding has become a common theme here in very-flat Horry County. Water from rain and storms drains so slowly that beaver dams are a regular nuisance, causing yards and homes to flood, and the county to shell out millions each year as it seeks to remove the dams and root out the rodents building them.
As more and more people have moved here — in addition to several recent, devastating hurricanes — concerns about flooding have increased, and some have had to face the question: Will my new home flood?
Now, though, Horry County has launched a new online tool aimed at avoiding that problem. The Map Your Move tool — a set of interactive maps and collection of links to flooding and building information — is aimed at people looking to move within, or to, Horry County, and allows them to assess how likely it is that a home or property they want to buy will flood.
Say you’re looking at a home in a new Carolina Forest or Conway subdivision. The Map Your Move tool, which connects to the county’s property database, allows a buyer to zoom into the specific parcel they wish to buy, and see how close the property is to existing and proposed flood zones, whether nearby roads closed during recent hurricanes and if the property has experienced storm surge during past rains.
A second map, also connected to the county property database, allows potential buyers to see how close schools, hospitals, fire stations and parks are to a chosen property.
You can access the Map Your Move tool at horrycounty.org/apps/mapyourmove.
“(People) were moving to the area and they didn’t have knowledge or the tools they thought they needed to make decisions or understand some of their risks,” Horry County spokesperson Kelly Moore said at a meeting of County Council’s flooding commission, where she and county IT staff unveiled the tool.
“Many of these resources,” Moore added, “have been publicly available and available on our website but they weren’t consolidated into one spot so we really worked hard to make this a one-stop shop, an easy place for people to begin finding some of this information.”
The launch of the Map Your Move tool comes as county and state leaders look to address the perennial flooding issues in Horry County. The flood commission, which was convened late last year, has been studying and debating new building and zoning regulations to help mitigate the effects of flooding in the county. As the county and that commission has worked — on a home buyout program, a “snag and drag” cleanup of the Waccamaw River and more — leaders hope the Map Your Move tool will further flooding mitigation efforts by giving home buyers more information.
The tool is still in beta — meaning county IT staff will continue to improve and adjust the site — and Moore said the county welcomes feedback on how to make the site more useful and user friendly from people using it.
An example of how the tool might be used recently came before County Council.
At a recent meeting, developers presented plans for new homes and townhomes at the intersection of Highways 501 and 31, in between Myrtle Beach and Conway. Council members ultimately approved the plans for that project, but not before several members, and some opposed to the project, pointed out that the area where developers wanted to build is within a flood plane.
Though information about flood planes is available, and though a recording of that meeting is available online, someone moving into one of those new homes or townhomes several years from now may not know about that, or know how to access those resources. The Map Your Move tool, Moore and others said, will make that information more accessible.
“It gives you an opportunity to interact with the properties and parcels that you may be interested in purchasing or ones around it that you may be interested in purchasing or moving to and you can get that information right there at your fingertips,” said Justin Schools, an IT manager for the county who worked on the tool.
David Gilreath, Horry County’s assistant administrator for infrastructure and regulation, said at Friday’s flood commission meeting that the county hopes to add information about planned developments to the tool in the new future.
On Friday, the tool was well received by county leaders.
“It’s an excellent tool. It’s one stop,” said County Council member Orton Bellamy, who chairs the flood commission. “That way if you’re in New York, Ohio, Connecticut, if individuals have visitors coming here or if individuals are interested in relocating to South Carolina to purchase a home you can access that worldwide.”