CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The City of Conway is taking steps to make sure new homes are better protected against flooding after Hurricane Matthew.
“We had a historic flood, so you’ve got to prepare for something worse than last year,” said City Planning Director Adam Emrick. Therefore, the city is requiring new developments, residential and commercial, to be built two feet above the highest flood level recorded in that area.
Conway city leaders adopted this same requirement in November 2016, immediately after the hurricane, as a “stop-gap measure,” said Emrick. However, city council passed the elevation standard as part of the city’s flood prevention ordinance this month.
“What we learned in the last flooding event is that there are some areas that are not protected from flash flooding and we’re hoping to better remedy that,” said Emrick.
Emrick adds that the new requirement is especially important now, since Conway is in the middle of a housing boom.
“We’re at the highest growth we’ve ever experienced, between 2016 and what we’re seeing in 2017. We want to make sure all those new homes and new commercial buildings are being protected from flood waters,” says Emrick.
Real estate developer Chris Barnhill of Barnhill Construction says the new building standard will cause house prices to go up.
“Whether it’s material, raising of the foundation, everything ultimately gets passed on to the consumer, and the consumer ends up picking up the cost,” Barnhill explains.
Despite the expected rise in house prices, Barnhill doesn’t think it will slow down his business or the rate of growth in Conway.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a slowdown in our area. Demand is real high right now. It may slow it down a little, but very little,” predicts Barnhill.
The construction company owner says in the long run, the new elevation requirement may actually help homeowners save money.
“Hopefully, it’ll keep homes from getting flood damage and get insurance prices to level out, as opposed to increasing every time we have a major flood,” hopes Barnhill.