Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Aiken County getting new flood hazard maps?


Flood hazard maps, also known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs, are important tools in the effort to protect structures in Aiken County. They indicate the risk for flooding throughout Aiken County. However, the current maps are out of date. Some formerly rural areas were never mapped, and other areas haven't been remapped in more than 28 years. Over time, water flow and drainage patterns have changed dramatically due to natural stream erosion, sedimentation, land use and natural forces. The riverine flooding has changed along with these factors.

New digital mapping techniques will provide more detailed, reliable and current data on Aiken County flood hazards. The result will be a better picture of the areas most likely to be impacted by flooding and a better foundation from which to make key decisions.



Who is responsible for modernizing the maps?


Currently, there is a nationwide collaborative effort across all levels of government to update the nation's flood hazard data and provide it in a detailed, digital format, in accordance with a multiyear plan created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.



What is a Flood Hazard Map? 


Flood hazard maps, or "FIRMs," are used to determine the flood risk to your home or business. The low- and moderate-risk zones are represented on NFIP FIRM maps by the letter "X" or an "X" that is shaded. The inland high-risk zones will be labeled with designations such as "A" "AE" "AO" or "AH". Aiken County designations consist of High Risk A and AE (100-year flood plain), and Low-Moderate X shaded (500-year) or X remainder of county. To see the 1984 FIRMs visit www.FloodSmart.gov. See the Fema Flood Information on Fema's official website.



What are the benefits of the new flood hazard maps?


The map modernization project will benefit numerous groups of people in different ways:

  • County planners and local officials will gain a greater understanding of the flood hazards and risks that affect Aiken County and can therefore improve local planning activities.
  • Engineers, surveyors, developers and builders will have access to more detailed information for making decisions, and can keep the cost of development down by using the information.
  • Insurance agents, insurance companies and lending institutions will have easy online access to updates and upcoming changes in order to serve their customers and community more efficiently.
  • Home and business owners will have the ability to make better financial decisions about protecting their properties.
  • Existing policies can be renewed
  • New policies can be written
  • VA and FHA mortgages remain available
  • Federal grants and loans remain available
  • Federal disaster relief remains available



What is a flood plain and how do I determine if my property is located in this area?


A flood plain is the part of the land where water collects, pools and flows during the course of natural events. Such areas are classified as Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs and are located in a 100-year flood plain. The term "100-year flood" is a little confusing. It is the flood elevation that has a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year; it is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. The likelihood of a flood occurring within a 100-year stretch of time is very high, but there's no way to predict when the next flood will occur or the one after that. The redrawn maps that indicate the floodplain as a "high-risk" area are officially classified as AE or A zones. Low to moderate risk areas will be designated as shaded X zones (500 year) and X on the remainder of the locality on the new maps.



How will the new flood hazard maps affect me?


Neighborhoods across Aiken County will be affected differently by these map changes. Some properties will not be affected their risk remains the same. Other properties will be mapped into a higher-risk area and/or show a new base flood elevation. Some properties will be mapped into a lower-risk area than before. Base flood elevation (100-year flood elevation): The height of the base flood or area of land that has a 1 percent chance of flooding in a given year in feet in relation to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988.



What will happen if my property is remapped from a low- or moderate-risk area to a high-risk area?


If the new maps indicate the building on your property is now at a higher risk for flooding, you will be required to purchase a flood policy if you carry a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. If you do not have a mortgage, it is still recommended that you purchase flood insurance. If your building is redrawn into a high-risk area, there are lower-cost options available through the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, "grandfathering" rule (see question No. 10).



What will happen if my property is remapped from a high-risk to a low or moderate-risk area?


When a building is remapped to a low or moderate-risk area, there is no longer a federally mandated requirement to purchase flood insurance. However, in most cases the risk has only been reduced, not removed. Flood insurance is still recommended.

  • Upon the adoption of the new maps, you may be eligible for a lower-cost Preferred-Risk Policy, or PRP. Through your insurance agent, it is a simple process to submit a PRP application and insured-signed conversion form to avoid any gaps in your flood coverage. ;
  • Direct questions about flood policy coverage and rates to 1.800.427.4661



How might the new flood maps affect me financially?


If your structure is mapped into a high-risk area and you have a mortgage with a federally-regulated lender, you will need to purchase flood insurance. If your property is mapped into a low-or moderate-risk area, you are not required to purchase or maintain insurance, but are encouraged to do so. The cost of properly protecting your home and contents from flood damage is far less expensive than the cost to repair or replace it after a flood has occurred.

    • Per FEMA: Through the National Flood Insurance Program, coverage often can be obtained at significant savings. The average cost for a flood insurance policy is around $500 per year. ; Further, homeowners may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy that covers both a structure and its contents for as little as $112 per year. Talk to your insurance agent to determine the appropriate level of protection you need and the money-saving options that are available.
    • Direct questions about flood policy coverage and rates to 1.800.427.4661



    What is the grandfathering rule, and how can it help me?


    The National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP has "grandfathering" rules to recognize policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map in place at the time of construction or who maintain continuous coverage. These rules allow such policyholders to benefit in the premium rating for their buildings. However, property owners should always use the new map if it will provide them with a more favorable premium.



    Renewal of an Existing Policy


    When determining the premium you will pay for flood insurance, an insurance agent will rate your flood insurance policy based on the flood map that is in effect on the date you purchase your policy. Flood insurance policies may then be renewed and still be rated based on the flood map in effect when the policy was initially rated as long as the flood insurance coverage is continuous and the building has not been altered in a manner that would remove this benefit. For example, if the building on the property is now in an X zone, you could purchase the policy before the flood maps are adopted and keep the lower rate associated with the X zone even after the new flood maps become effective. You may even qualify for the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy for the first year, which provides both building and contents coverage at significant savings. To help maintain this grandfathering benefit for the next owner, you may transfer the policy to them at the time of sale.

    Renewal of an Existing Policy
    When determining the premium you will pay for flood insurance, an insurance agent will rate your flood insurance policy based on the flood map that is in effect on the date you purchase your policy. Flood insurance policies may then be renewed and still be rated based on the flood map in effect when the policy was initially rated as long as the flood insurance coverage is continuous and the building has not been altered in a manner that would remove this benefit. For example, if the building on the property is now in an X zone, you could purchase the policy before the flood maps are adopted and keep the lower rate associated with the X zone even after the new flood maps become effective. ; You may even qualify for the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy for the first year, which provides both building and contents coverage at significant savings. To help maintain this grandfathering benefit for the next owner, you may transfer the policy to them at the time of sale.

    Built in Compliance ;
    The National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP will honor a grandfather rule for buildings constructed after the first flood map for the community became effective in Aiken County on April 16, 1984 if the building:

    • was built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction,
    • has not been substantially damaged or altered.

    Under this grandfather rule, the property owner must provide proper documentation to the insurance company.

    • If you wish to keep in effect the zone designation from when the structure was built, you must provide a copy of the flood map effective at the time of construction showing where the structure is located or present a letter from a community official verifying this information.
    • In general, for buildings constructed in high-risk zones after the community's first flood map was adopted, rates are based on the difference between the flood map's base flood elevation or BFE and building's elevation. If there is a change in the BFE and keeping the BFE that existed when the structure was first built gives you a better rate, you must provide the agent with an elevation certificate and a copy of the flood map effective at the time of construction



    How can I learn more about the flood map modernization process and how it could affect me?


    Following is a list of resources and contact information to use should you have more questions regarding the National Flood insurance program, or NFIP.
    Online Resources:

    Other Resources:
    Non-insurance questions:
    Aiken County Planning and Development
    Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, 803.642.1518



Government Center, 1930 University Pkwy | Aiken, SC 29801 Aiken County Government | © 2017