After an extended 60-day public review period, the draft report for the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study has received nearly 500 comments from community members and stakeholders across the region.
The Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, which manages the three-year, $3 million, fully federally funded study, began investigating coastal storm risks on a low-lying stretch of the Charleston peninsula in October 2018. This area includes the region’s most robust medical district — resting on flood-prone, reclaimed marsh — and historic resources dating back to some of the nation’s first settlements.
The study was requested by the City of Charleston to augment the community’s proactive discussions about comprehensive, long-term flood reduction strategies. The Corps’ study, which integrates findings by the Dutch Dialogues and considers other city actions and climate-related concerns, primarily examines storm surge and the risks of coastal storm events — both significant threats for the peninsula and within the Corps’ jurisdictional scope.
The initial comment period kicked off April 20 after the state and nation had already begun dealing with the uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. In addition to the already expanded public comment period, the study team mounted a dynamic outreach strategy to help foster an engaging public review and keep the study on a congressionally mandated timeline.
As part of the draft report release, the team designed and launched an interactive online presentation, walking viewers through the report’s exhaustive analysis and presenting findings through GIS mapping. The study team dedicated hours each week to taking one-on-one calls with citizens, engaged over 1000 community members through joint virtual webinars with the city, and made print copies of the study’s draft report available for zero-contact pickup outside the district downtown office.
The district received sweeping and constructive feedback across every facet of the Charleston community. Homeowners, teachers, realtors, engineers, local government officials and historic and environmental groups all submitted feedback on the draft report.
This input, as well as the study’s partnerships and ongoing collaboration with local, state and federal agencies, are vital to the Corps’ commitment to public service and ensure the Corps develop a solution that is both effective and aligned with the interests of the community.
Over the next six months, the team will review all public input, further refine the study’s tentative measures and conduct successive study analysis. These refinements, including those on storm surge wall alignment, impacts on the surrounding communities, viewshed impacts, nonstructural elements and environmental considerations, will be available for comment during a second public review period for that purpose in early 2021.
All submitted comments will be addressed in the final report. In the meantime, the district will update the frequently asked questions section on the study website to address the public’s top questions.