Imperfect Storm: When hurricane inundation, in this case from 2017’s Irma, meets high tide, the Battery gets battered. Pictured here, Murray Boulevard and the Low Battery, with an eight-foot, one-inch tide, one hour and 25 minutes before predicted high tide.
A drone shot of a rising spring tide (or “king tide”) near Sullivan’s Island in April 2017; photograph by Jason Ogden
Fording the Crosstown: Thanks to ongoing drainage projects, the Crosstown no longer morphs into a river of misery with every downpour, though it can still be a flood-prone zone.
Jacob Lindsey, City of Charleston Director of Planning, Preservation, and Sustainability
1,000 Years of Floods: As these vintage images show, flooding in Charleston is nothing new. (Above) a pencil marking indicating “1911” suggests this car, sloshing down the street most likely near the corner of Rutledge and Calhoun, was a victim of the September 1911 flood.
Wet Point Gardens: A hurricane in 1940 turned White Point Gardens into a waterway. Two men wade at the corner of Meeting and South Battery
Cars flooded at the end of King Street and South Battery.
The aptly named Water and President streets often flood with storm water and king tides.
A historic Halsey Map shows the original creek bed lines on the peninsula...
... and the map is overlaid on a current aerial image, indicating areas that once were waterways.
In January 2019, a press conference to introduce Dutch Dialogues was held in West Ashley, at an area of repeated flooding in the Church Creek basin. Mayor John Tecklenburg (third from left) asserted his commitment to solving flooding problems. To his left: Winslow Hastie, CEO of Historic Charleston Foundation, as well as Dutch Dialogues consultants Dale Morris, David Waggonner, and Janice Barnes.
Mark Wilbert, the City of Charleston’s first Chief Resiliency Officer
For the Spring/Fishburne Drainage Project, a wetwell drop shaft is under construction at the future pump station on Lockwood Drive. When completed, the 30-foot diameter shaft will extend about 175 feet to connect with a tunnel that collects storm water from surface inlets.
Pumps will push water into the Ashley River regardless of tidal phase, hastening drainage time.
A Flood of Factors: This diagram, courtesy of the City’s 2019 Flooding and Sea Level Rise Strategy plan, shows the various and often interrelated factors that can result in flooding events.
Charting the Tide The top 10 crests measured at Charleston Harbor
The Church Creek drainage basin, comprised of nearly 5,000 acres along the Ashley River, was historically mostly old phosphate mines and marsh. Today, it’s approximately 80 percent developed, including the flood-prone neighborhoods of Shadowmoss and Hickory Hill, among others. The city has spent more than $3.5 million on improvements and monitoring stormwater runoff from new development to try to mitigate adverse impacts, but problems persist. The area is a focus for the Dutch Dialogues team, and a likely target for green infrastructure.
Historic Charleston Foundation CEO Winslow Hastie sees flooding as a preservation threat.
High tides and heavy rains often meant Morrison Drive became Morrison River
An early 2018 check valve installation has helped prevent the flooding.
How does an in-line Check Valve work?
Dale Morris, director of strategic partnerships for the Water Institute of the Gulf
The massive 72-foot-high, 689-foot-long steel gates of the Maeslantkering protect Rotterdam, and the entrance to one of the world’s busiest ports, from storm surge.
David Waggonner, Dutch Dialogues cofounder and president of New Orleans-based architectural firm Waggonner & Ball
From Dialogue to Design The Dutch have been leaders in water management engineering for centuries and have evolved well past building dams and dykes. Here are some of their innovative design strategies:
In the tourist beach town of Katwijk on the North Sea, Dutch architects designed a series of man-made dunes rising 25 feet above sea level that not only provide protection from storm surge and future sea level rise but parking facilities underneath for nearly 700 cars, all integrated into the natural coastal environment. The design won Best Building of the Year 2016 by the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects.
Playgrounds and urban common areas incorporate pervious surfaces and basins that fill with water during storm events and convert back to play areas when dry.
Rooftop gardens, such as the Vivaldistraat, create welcoming civic places for lunch, meetings, and a breath of fresh air, while helping manage rainwater.
Recently elevated downtown residence near Colonial Lake.
Recently elevated downtown residence on Murray Boulevard.
Waggonner & Ball Director of Resilience Janice Barnes (pictured at a recent Dutch Dialogues Charleston event) promotes integrating economic development into flooding solutions.
A Hazard to Lives & Livelihood: The 1,000-year flood resulted in the loss of 19 lives across the state. Rising water is more than a nuisance—it can be a health issue, especially for those who deal with mold-related illness or are unable to access emergency care due to flooded roads near health facilities like MUSC and Roper Hospital.
Addressing It With Dialogue and Design - How city planners and preservationists are rethinking, and redesigning, Charleston’s approach to flooding