Flood Preparation and Protection
Floods are dangerous and costly. Our goal is to provide you with the information and resources you will need to best prepare. Start with these steps:
STEP 1 – KNOW YOUR RISK
The entirety of Wrightsville Beach is located in a designated flood hazard area. You are in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) which means your property is subject to flooding, and may fall under the repetitive loss category. Land surveyors can provide you with a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-approved elevation certificate for insurance purposes. The Town of Wrightsville Beach Inspections Office can be of assistance regarding map determinations, flood insurance information, suggested ways of reducing your premium cost, and identifying exposures that increase your flood insurance cost. For assistance, contact the Inspections Office at (910) 256-7937. To view the Wrightsville Beach Elevation Certificate, click here.
STEP 2 – PLAN AHEAD
- Review your insurance policies and coverages with your local agent. Be certain that you are properly covered. Flood protection requires a special/separate flood policy that is NOT included with standard homeowners/renters insurance policies. There is a 30-day waiting period on new policies before coverage goes into effect. Homeowners can get up to $250,000 of building and contents coverage and businesses up to $500,000. Renters can get up to $100,000 of coverage for belongings. Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information and resources.
- Inventory all personal property. Prepare a list of items with descriptions, and take photos or video of items. Store documents and important papers in waterproof containers.
- Familiarize yourself with local television and radio stations, websites, and official social media sites for forecasts and emergency instructions. Be knowledgeable of evacuation routes and shelters available to you and your family. Have plans for how and where to meet if separated.
- Be prepared to perform simple first aid techniques and have adequate first aid supplies available.
- Be sure that your preparation includes non-preparatory/non-perishable food supplies, personal medication, battery operated lights and radios, extra batteries, sanitary supplies, fresh bottled drinking water, sleeping bags and blankets, and wet and cold weather clothing. Keep your car serviced and full of gas, and make arrangements for pet shelter and care.
- If evacuation becomes necessary, be sure that you turn off all utility services at their main connection. Upon returning, do not smoke or use combustibles in an area of gas service in case of a system leak. If you lose or are under threat of losing power, be sure to turn off and unplug all major appliances, electronics, HVAC systems, and any other item that could be damaged by a power surge.
- Avoid all flooded areas. DO NOT try to drive or walk through flooded roads or paths – you don’t know what is underneath and the current can carry you or your vehicle away. If your car becomes stalled in a flooded area, abandon it and seek high ground immediately. Turn around, don’t drown!
- If you are forced to utilize a shelter facility, be sure to take along your own supplies and necessities. Be willing to assist shelter workers as needed. Do your part to maintain the cleanliness and sanitation of the facility. And remember that during a flood there will be lots of problems that emergency personnel will be faced with; try not to be one.
STEP 3 – PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY AND MITIGATE FLOOD EFFECTS
Recent construction regulations have made new homes less prone to flooding. However, many existing structures remain susceptible. Retrofitting is one of several effective ways to reduce or eliminate exposure to flooding. Retrofitting is a different approach because the property itself remains subject to flooding while the building is modified to prevent or minimize flooding of habitable space.
There are several recognizable approaches to retrofitting:
- Elevation of the structure above flood protection levels.
- Construction of barriers (floodwalls, berms, etc.).
- Dry flood-proofing such as water tight floor and wall systems (non-residential).
- Wet flood-proofing such as constructing the flood prone areas so as to permit the entry and passage of flood waters and removing or relocating items of value to higher elevation levels (non-residential).
In the event of pending flood threats, take the following emergency actions:
- Sand bagging to reduce erosion and scouring.
- Elevate furniture above flood protection levels.
- Create floodway openings in non-habitable areas such as garage doors.
- Seal off or backflow valve sewer lines to prevent the backflow of sewer waters.
STEP 4 – BE FAMILIAR WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR MAKING SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENTS
Substantial improvement shall mean any repair from damage or destruction, reconstruction, improvement, or additions of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the assessed tax value of the structure as is listed by the New Hanover County Tax Office or by a certified appraisal. The assessed value of the structure shall be determined before the improvement is started, or if the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage or destruction occurred.
The percentage of substantial improvement shall be counted cumulatively for a period of not less than five years for improvements, modifications, additions, and reconstruction. Storm damage caused by acts of God or other natural causes is based on a per event cost of repair.
This requirement does not include either: (1) any project or improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or (2) any alteration of a historic structure, provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure’s continued designation as a historic structure.
STEP 5 – BE FAMILIAR WITH FLOODPLAIN DEVELOPMENT PERMITS
All properties located within the corporate limits of the Town of Wrightsville Beach are located in the floodplain on the community’s flood insurance rate map and are subject to state and local regulations. The Town’s Planning and Inspections Department will make site visits to meet with property owners regarding flood protection assistance upon request. To request a site visit, call their office at (910) 256-7937. This assistance includes information on historical flood data, floodproofing/retrofitting techniques, etc. Before undertaking development, a builder must secure the necessary permits from the Town’s Inspections Office specifically covering the activity.
Development activities include but are not limited to the following: Man-made changes to improved or unimproved real estate not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation, or drilling operations. The Town may, at its discretion, issue stop work orders, levy fines, or obtain court orders to insure compliance with regulation.
If unauthorized activities are observed, please contact the Town’s Inspection Office located at 321 Causeway Drive, or by calling (910) 256-7937. Your cooperation and assistance in code enforcement activities is appreciated.
STEP 6 - EDUCATE YOURSELF ON FLOOD HAZARDS AND STORM SURGE
The greatest flood threats come from hurricanes, seasonal storms, and seasonal high tides. Heavy and/or prolonged rainfall can affect the capacity of the drainage and sewer system which can cause flooding as well. Wrightsville Beach is a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, thus making it vulnerable to flooding. Previous hurricanes have reached category 4 levels (Hazel, 1984 and Fran, 1996), completely submerging the entire barrier island. Additionally, storms and high tides have flooded the lowest areas of the island such as Channel Avenue, North Channel Drive, and some oceanfront properties located on Scotch Bonnet Lane and Conch Lane.
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association: "Along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane. In the past, large death tolls have resulted from the rise of the ocean associated with many of the major hurricanes that have made landfall. Hurricane Katrina (2005) is a prime example of the damage and devastation that can be caused by surge. At least 1500 people lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.
Storm Surge vs. Storm Tide: Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases."
For more information, please visit www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge
Another flood threat is that from a tsunami. While 85% of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean, you should be aware of their potential impact to our area. Please visit https://www.readync.org/stay-informed/natural-hazards/tsunamis for more information.
Stay Informed with Storm and Flood Warning Systems
Storm and flood warnings are broadcast to the public by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio (NWR) system, commercial radio and TV stations, as well as through local emergency agencies. These warnings are intended to provide individuals with opportunities to prepare, protect, and lessen their exposures to damages from flooding by establishing time frames and expected flood levels.
The following stations service the local Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina area:
|NOAA Weather Radio (NWR), frequency 162.550||The National Weather Service||WMFD AM 630||WGNI FM 102.7|
|WWAY TV3||The National Hurricane Center||WAAV AM 980||WYHW FM 104.5|
|WECT TV6||The Weather Channel||WNTB FM 93.7|
Warnings may also be transmitted over governmental, news, weather, and official social media platforms, any AM/FM band radio receiver, personal weather radios, police scanners, and tunable VHF radios. You can also find information at the Town of Wrightsville Beach website: www.TownOfWrightsvilleBeach.com.
Protect Our Protection Systems
PROTECT OUR NATURAL & BENEFICIAL FLOODPLAIN FUNCTIONS
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina floodplain areas that are in a relatively undisturbed state such as marshlands, well vegetated sand dunes, restricted shore zones, and federally renourished beach strands provide a wide range of benefits. These benefits take many forms:
- Natural Flood and Erosion Control: Floodplain areas provide flood storage and conveyance, reduce flood velocity, and control erosion of beach front structures.
- Water Quality: Floodplain areas filter nutrients and impurities from runoff.
- Ground Water Recharge: Floodplain areas reduce frequency and duration of surface flow.
- Biological Resources: Floodplain areas support high rate of plant growth, provide breeding and feeding grounds, and enhance water fowl habitat.
- Societal Resources: Floodplain areas provide open space and aesthetic pleasures, and in areas of scientific study provide opportunities for environmental research.
The Town of Wrightsville Beach ordinances addressing floodplains are as follows:
- General Building Requirements and Federal Flood Insurance Programs – Sections 151.065-.088
- Zoning Districts – P-1 Conservation Zone, Section 188.8.131.52
- Zoning Districts – S-1 Shore Zone, Section 184.108.40.206
- Environmental Regulations – Oceanfront Property, Section 155.11.26
- CAMA Regulations by contract with the State of North Carolina
FLOODPLAIN AREAS ARE REGULATED BY TOWN OF WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH LAWS AND ARE ENFORCED BY THE TOWN OF WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH PLANNING AND INSPECTIONS DEPARTMENT. All federal, state, and local regulations and ordinances are subject to change. Contact the Town of Wrightsville Beach Planning and Inspections Department at (910) 256-7937 for the current status of any and all regulations.
PROTECT OUR DRAINAGE SYSTEM
A community can lose a portion of its drainage system’s carrying or storage capacity due to dumping, debris, soil erosion and sedimentation, and overgrowth of vegetation. When this happens, flooding occurs more frequently and reaches higher elevations, subjecting properties otherwise protected to unnecessary risk of damage.
To minimize risk, the enforcement of regulations and the maintenance of streams, channels, and detention/retention basins are controlled by the Town of Wrightsville Beach North Carolina, in conjunction with the State of North Carolina General Statute 77.14, and adopted New Hanover County erosion and sedimentation ordinances. The Town of Wrightsville Beach Streets and Maintenance Department is responsible for the implementation of this program and should be notified immediately of any violations or conditions that threaten the Town’s drainage system/retention areas. Town of Wrightsville Beach Streets and Maintenance Department: 200 Parmele Blvd., (910) 256-7935.
- Tony Wilson
- Director of Planning & Parks
- Trevor Welsh
- Building Inspector
- Robert O'Quinn
- Planner, Zoning Administration