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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute


Floods in Georgetown County, South Carolina: A Geographical Assessment of Losses

Melanie Bartis

Advisor:  Dr. Susan L. Cutter

 

ABSTRACT

A recent state assessment of repetitive flood losses in South Carolina indicated that Georgetown County had the greatest amount of monetary losses for the period of record (1978 through 1999), nearly one-third of all coastal losses. While Georgetown County has a smaller population and less developed land than other coastal counties, it has considerably higher documented flood losses. The purpose of this thesis was to determine why Georgetown County experienced such flood losses. This study used the NCDC Storm Data and the Repetitive Flood Loss Data to develop the spatial and temporal patterns in losses. Results suggest that the majority of flood losses occurred on Pawley's Island, a beach community on the coast of Georgetown County. Furthermore, most of the damage-producing events were coastal in origin, stemming not only from tropical but also extratropical systems. Flood losses were greatest in late summer/early autumn with a secondary peak in winter. Development in coastal areas is increasing at a rate up to 150%. At the time this thesis was completed, the City of Georgetown, a member of FEMA's Community Rating System, had the best mitigation programs in the county, but no floodplain management plan or flood hazard mitigation plan had been completed. Furthermore, the State Flood Mitigation Plan thoroughly assessed flood hazards, but did not provide local implementation guidance. The information compiled in this thesis will be useful for planners and emergency managers for zoning and planning, resource allocation, and public information purposes.