Ocean Rise a Real Threat to the South Carolina Coast

Sep 7, 2017

It's dry now, but when it rains, people in this office building in Charleston's upper peninsula must walk this plank to avoid a sometimes six- inch "river" on the way to work.
Credit Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

In 2014, the streets of Charleston were flooded on 11 days.  It increased to 38 days in 2015, and in 2016, it was 50 days.  The city is taking the threat of sea level rise seriously, says Chief Resilience Officer Mark Wilbert. 

More than $200 million has been spent on infrastructure, Wilbert says, and the city is planning a vulnerability analysis, which is needed because the tides already have risen a foot over the past century.   The increased flooding is easy for Cathryn Zommer to observe. 

When it rains, Zommer and others in her office building must walk a plank  to keep out of six-inch deep water between the office and the parking lot.  Wilbert says no one can stop the sea from rising, but doing nothing is not acceptable.  He believes if the city starts now, it can shape what the future looks like, and Charleston and other cities and take actions that make sense for all their residents.