Hurricane Ian

As of now the track for Ian is predicted to have the eye pass over Cape Romain and McClellanville. Winds are currently 85mph. This area is my favorite coastal paddling area, and the town is still a fishing village with no tourist type of development. McClellanville was hard hit by hurricane Hugo’s storm surge in 1989. I have seen Cape Island and Murphy Island slowly being washed away by storms over the last dozen years. Sandy Point off of Five Fathom Creek has been gone for many years.

What is going to rise as an issue from this one as the days go on is how many people that got nailed were in areas that were not in areas eligible for flood coverage. Because they were not in areas recognized as flood-prone to start with. Not dissimilar to Hackensack NJ after Irene or Sandy or whichever it was. They were well in so the direct coastal effects were not a risk for them, instead it was the storm surge up the canal which traditional flood zone mapping tended to ignore.

Complicating all of this is how far backed up and under-resourced the federal entities that have to do this mapping are. I for ex am the first house in my block going north that is not at all in Zone A. I know this because every few years I go down to our county GIS folks and get another image with the flood lines and my house number showing on my roof.

Moreover, our flood lines are from a flood 150 years ago that preceded two dam and water regulating systems. One of which works quite well, the other is relying on a dam which some are concerned about. But as long as it holds it is very effective. The first regulating district was able to dump water 24 hours ahead of the last big one and was able to limit a lot of flooding. In fact we hit the old 1862 levels on the Hudson that had flooded everything just south of me. But this time the water was nearly two blocks away from me due to sea walls and land which had been elevated since then. None of which is accounted for in the official maps.

Unfortunately the resources to update those maps seem to be more than overstressed. My house has listed on the official FEMA site as being near to or in a high risk zone for several years now, with a note it is being remapped. As long as I can visit my county real property office and get the lovely detailed map it is not fatal to things like house sales. But not everyone has that resource. And after each of these major events, more property gets added to the in or near high risk zone category.

The sea gives and takes away. The video cam at the Litchfield Inn shows the dunes taking a severe pounding now.