It is the goal of the City of Charleston to reduce the threat of property damage, injury, and loss of life that can be associated with flooding.
Flooding is a major risk to nearly any community, and particularly to communities near bodies of water. The City of Charleston, with its proximity and access to the Kanawha River and other smaller tributaries, has seen 13 floods greater than the 1% Annual Chance flood. The last was in 1934, but significant damage and even loss of property has occurred in Charleston during smaller flood events.
Low lying areas can experience flooding any time during rain or severe storms, or when stream and river conditions change. Even relatively small flood events can cause catastrophic damage to property and threaten the lives of residents. That’s why it’s important to know the risk to your property and to be prepared for a flood event. Our staff can help.
The Floodplain Manager reviews building permit applications to ensure that proposed construction or remodeling are in compliance with the Floodplain Ordinance of the City of Charleston.
Prior to the issuance of any building permit or upon request [link to “Request a Determination” page], the Floodplain Manager will determine if your property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
A structure located in the Special Flood Hazard Area is at higher risk of damage by flood waters. Owning a property within the Special Flood Hazard area can come with different and more stringent safety standards for construction and renovation. Typically, property owners are required to purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program to insure against the much higher likelihood of damage by flood.
If the Floodplain Manager determines that the property is close to a flood hazard area, it may be recommended or required that the owner obtain an Elevation Certificate. An Elevation Certificate must be completed by a licensed surveyor or registered professional engineer who accurately and precisely measures the height of your structure in relation to the height of the anticipated flood, as indicated on FEMA issued flood insurance rate maps available here. The certificate will help determine the proper insurance premium rate, help with application for a building permit, or support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA), Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) or Letter of Map Revision based on Fill (LOMR-F). This is a low cost way of accurately assessing your risk that often pays for its self in a short period of time by way of reduced Flood Insurance premiums and increased certainty for the potential buyers of a property.
The Floodplain Manager can discuss with you various options that can help lower your flood risk and flood insurance costs. These include grant programs, low interest loans, or modifications to your structure.
For specific information regarding building standards, FEMA has also produced many Technical Bulletins and other publications that provide specific guidance for construction and retrofitting standards.
Requests for Elevation Certificate
The city maintains a database of all Elevation Certificates (link to Flood Data & Forecasts page) that have been completed, both pre- and post-construction. Copies are available upon request to the Floodplain Manager or the Planning Department.
Do you have a professional, civic, or neighborhood group that wants to learn more about flood risks in your area and what you can do to lower your personal and community risk? You can contact the Floodplain Manager to speak with your group on a wide variety of topics dealing with floodplain issues. These educational opportunities are valuable for:
- Developers & Builders
Participation in the Community Rating System
The National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are automatically discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions that meet the three goals of the CRS:
- Reduce flood losses;
- Facilitate accurate insurance rating; and
- Promote the awareness of flood insurance.
Charleston is the only municipality in West Virginia that participates in the CRS. The city has achieved a Class 9 rating, which means that Charleston’s property owners enjoy an automatic 5% discount on their flood insurance premiums.
Essential resource for flood preparedness and planning for your family.
Federal Emergency Management Agency –
Disaster preparedness and recovery program information.
The National Flood Insurance Program –
Learn about how you can buy Flood Insurance no matter where your home or business is located.
American Red Cross Emergency Mobile Apps –
Get updates and emergency advice on your mobile device for Apple and Android.
WV Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management –
State resources for disaster preparedness and recovery, floodplain management, and hazard mitigation.
National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service –
See real-time forecasts for flooding in the City of Charleston.
WV Flood Hazard Determination Tool –
Locate your property and see the flood risk for yourself and your family.
USGS – Current Conditions for Charleston –
See current water discharge levels on the Kanawha River. Flow levels above 123,000 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) will result in flooding in low lying areas. Flows above 155,000 CFS will result in flooding in flood zones as shown on FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps or the WV Flood Hazard Determination Tool above.
USGS – WaterAlert Notification System –
Get SMS text message or Email alerts for flood risk in the City of Charleston from the Kanawha River. Make sure to set notification alerts to “greater than” 155,000 CFS to be notified about the 1-Percent Annual Chance Flood.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -
West Virginia Flood Risk Mitigation Program Guide - a list of federal, state, and local funding opportunities for West Virginia residents and businesses.