Tropical Storm Erika didn't deliver any major winds to the U.S. Coast, weakening into a tropical depression off the coast of Cuba before even approaching Florida from the south. But the weather system still carried moisture as it moved north, and some of that moisture rained down on Charleston, South Carolina as the disturbance made its way north. The result was flooding in the Lowcountry — enough to force some residents out of their homes in a low-lying mobile home park. The Post and Courier has a report (see: "Record deluge swamps Charleston area," by Bo Petersen, Brenda Rindge, and Melissa Boughton).
"Rain, partly from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika, began falling Sunday, but a torrent let loose for a few hours early Monday," the paper reported. "A record-for-the-date 6.43 inches of rain fell at the National Weather Service’s office in North Charleston — and even more came down in other spots... Charleston city and county rescue workers and police used boats and all-terrain vehicles to check on residents in the swamped Shadowmoss subdivision off Ashley River Road. In spots the water was at least 2 feet deep. Dogs swam in the street and kids floated on paddleboards and in kayaks."
Business owner Jenifer Fanning "just cried" when she rushed to check on her floor-covering business, she told the paper — "especially when my insurance man told me I didn’t have flood insurance" for about $100,000 worth of damage.
More than 100 families were evacuated from the Charlestowne Village mobile home community during the flood, WCIV-TV reported (see: "Many Charlestowne Village residents unable to return home after flooding"). Authorities took some families to local shelters while crews investigated to locate the source of oil contamination in the floodwaters.
In the wake of the flood, the Post and Courier took the opportunity to remind citizens of the widespread risk of flood in the Charleston area, and of the value of having flood insurance when a flood does occur (see: "Recent deluge illustrates widespread risk of flooding across the Charleston area," by David Slade). ", and that could add hundreds of dollars, or even more, to the monthly cost of ownership.For those who aren’t in a flood zone, or don’t have a mortgage, flood insurance becomes a question of weighing risks and costs — the bottom line with any insurance decision. In a state where 24-hour rainfall records have exceeded a foot of water in some counties, in a coastal area where the storm surge from a Hugo-sized hurricane could exceed 20 feet, there’s a lot of risk to consider."
And the paper noted that South Carolina offers tax relief for homeowners who choose to insure. "Here’s how the state’s Excess Insurance Premium Tax Credit works," the paper reported: "If the cost of insuring your primary residence exceeds 5 percent of your federal adjusted gross income, the state will cover the difference, up to $1,250 yearly, as a credit on your state income tax return. The tax credit reduces the income tax you owe the state, dollar for dollar." But as the paper pointed out, the tax credit isn't any help to retired homeowners who don't owe income taxes.
Flood insurance requirements in the Charleston area are set to change for some residents, the paper reported: "Note that federal flood maps are being updated, so the high-risk flood areas could change. To see when the flood map for your community will be updated, click the 'new flood maps' option on the floodsmart.gov website. Many of those new maps are scheduled to take effect, for flood insurance rates, late next year."