Flooding is nothing new in historic Charleston, South Carolina. In fact, in 1850, the mayor offered a hundred dollar gold piece to the person who could come up with a solution. The result was a system of storm drains – many of which still exist. But as sea levels rise, the flooding is getting worse.

Cabiness: “This nuisance flooding and the tidal increases that have been happening, they do seem to be occurring more frequently, and they do seem to be slightly higher than they were before.”

That’s Laura Cabiness, the city’s Public Services Director and engineer. She says that when tides are high, water overflows the storm drains. Add rain, and flooding not only blocks traffic, but threatens Charleston’s historic district — where preservation is a matter of pride and tourism dollars.

So city officials are taking action — spending millions on drainage projects across the city. They’re also now requiring all new structures to be built with the finished floor a foot higher than the base flood level.

Cabiness: “And that will make them a little bit more resilient into the future as tides rise.”

So when you visit Charleston years from now, hopefully you can still see beautiful cobblestone streets and stately homes – not just water.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Historic Charleston (Copyright protected).

More Resources
National Landmarks at Risk
The Front Lines of Climate Change: Charleston’s Struggle
SC already feeling climate change effects
Climate change and S.C. tourism: Paradise lost?

Diana Madson

Diana Madson has been a regular contributor with Yale Climate Connections since April 2014. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition...