Discover the 5 Most Flood-Prone Towns in South Carolina

Written by Alyssa Shea
Updated: September 27, 2023
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If you live in South Carolina, you’re no stranger to extreme weather. While this state has a lot to offer when it comes to tourism and southern living, flooding is a common enough occurrence to create a significant issue for many in this state. There’s a reason why the state is commonly referred to as the “Lowcountry.” Its low topography means a good portion of the state sits at or below sea level.

Also, the westerly winds steer many storms toward their coast, creating a humid subtropical climate with mild winters. The state is vulnerable to tornadoes, hurricanes, and storm activity. This leads to flooding, closed highways, storm surges, downed powerlines, and more. Find out which towns in South Carolina face the most challenges when severe weather is on the horizon.

1. Mount Pleasant

One of the most well-loved towns in South Carolina would have to be Mount Pleasant. Its superior schools, beautiful yet pricey houses, and breweries and pubs make it a popular spot. Many people head to Mount Pleasant to paddle along Shem Creek, visit Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, and visit local plantations. Two types of flooding can occur in the area. Much of the drainage systems in this town tend to be blocked, causing localized flooding. The second type of flooding is due to rising water from storms and hurricanes, known as “storm surges.”

Cooper River Bridge

To enter Mount Pleasant, you must use Charleston’s impressive Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge.

©Jeffrey Schreier/iStock via Getty Images

2. Charleston

This historic port city has experienced plenty of harsh weather over the years. The beautiful architecture and top-tier cuisine draw hundreds of tourists each year. This city is famous for its numerous churches, waterfront parks, and the beautiful sweetgrass baskets locals are known for making. Every month, on the second Sunday, the City of Charleston shuts down its famous King Street to allow vendors to set up and people to stroll in the area. Unfortunately, the age of this city shows when it comes to storms. Charleston has experienced drainage and flooding problems since its founding more than 300 years ago!

Downtown Charleston South Carolina Skyline Aerial

Charleston was founded in 1670, then known as Charles Town.

©Kevin Ruck/

3. Hilton Head Island

With more than 100 miles of paved trails, Hilton Head is a great place to explore. Their beaches are unmatched, and the golf courses are odd. Hilton Head is a common tourist destination, with over 2.5 million visitors annually. This coastal area is incredibly prone to coastal floods due to high tides, storms, or hurricanes. Due to its location, it’s more prone to accelerated shoreline erosion rates. Officials have been trying to drain lagoons to counteract flooding issues due to high rainfall. Several recent major hurricanes have caused havoc on the island as well.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island has been named the largest barrier island on the Southeastern coast.

©Christian A Perry/

4. James Island

With its proximity to the beach and downtown Charleston, James Island is a prime location for house hunters and tourists alike. Farming, fishing, and shrimping are some of the things this island is most known for, besides its ancient live oaks and historical areas like McLeod Plantation. Much of James Island has low-lying roads, meaning flooding will always occur in these areas. New drainage projects have been making a dent in the flooding issue, though more work is needed to see improvement.

A fiery sunset stretches over James Island, near Charleston, SC.

 James Island was first explored and settled by the English back in 1670.

©Darwin Brandis/

5. Dewees Island

Dewees Island feels like an oasis! Miles and miles of private beaches and local wildlife are accessible by a 20-minute ferry ride. The vast marshland is a big draw for those interested in diverse ecosystems. These include freshwater wetlands, saltwater marshes, intertidal beaches, and a dune system. The dune system is one thing that helps stand in the way of flooding from storms or hurricanes. Residents must constantly be aware of the tides because sometimes it can flood even when it’s not raining!

Sand Dune

Regulations on Dewees ensure that the natural habitat is safe.

©Jeffrey Schreier/iStock via Getty Images

Summary of the 5 Most Flood-Prone Towns in South Carolina

1Mount Pleasant
3Hilton Head Island
4James Island
5Dewees Island

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/

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About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

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