Flood Protection Information

Flooding in our Town is caused by two sources:  The Atlantic Ocean rises and creates storm surges during hurricanes, tropical storms, nor’easters and lunar tides.  These surges sometimes erode dunes and wash over into the street.  The  Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway  can also rise during these events causing the water in our canals to rise over the bulkheads and into yards, home storage areas and streets. 

There are 3 major flood zone designations in our Town:
  • Zone X – A flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to areas outside the 1-percent annual chance floodplain, areas of 1-percent annual chance sheet flow flooding where average depths are less than 1 foot, areas of 1-percent annual chance stream flooding where the contributing drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the 1-percent annual chance flood by levees.  No Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone.  Insurance purchase is not required in this zone.
  • Zone AE – A flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 1-percent annual chance floodplains that are determined in the Flood Insurance Study by detailed methods of analysis.  In most instances, Base Flood Elevations derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone.  Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.  
  • Zone VE  –   The flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to areas within the 1-percent annual chance coastal floodplains that have additional hazards associated with storm waves.  Base Flood Elevations derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone.  Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

  Flood Safety

  • EVACUATE MEANS EVACUATE .   When a voluntary or mandatory evacuation order is issued by the Town, heed on the side of caution and evacuate.  Storms are unpredictable and can strengthen in a short amount of time.
  • Do not walk through flowing water .  Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods.  Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.  If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area .  More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.  Do not drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires .  The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution.  Electrical current can travel through water.  Report downed power lines to Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation (BEMC) or Town Hall.
  • Look before you step .  After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails.  Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
  • Be alert for gas leaks .  Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.  Don’t smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.

Flood Insurance

The Town of Ocean Isle Beach participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes federally backed flood insurance available for all eligible buildings, whether they are in a floodplain or not.  Flood insurance covers direct losses caused by surface flooding, in a river flowing over its banks, a lake or ocean storm and local drainage problems.  The NFIP insures buildings with two types of coverage:  building and contents.

In order to get secured financing to buy, build, or improve structures located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA's) you will be required to purchase flood insurance. Federally regulated lenders are required by law to determine if the structure is located in a SFHA and must provide the buyer with written notice that flood insurance will be required. In other words, for properties located in Special Flood Hazard Areas, no flood insurance, no loan.

Structures located in SFHAs have a 26 percent chance of being flooded over the course of a 30-year mortgage. Conversely, the likelihood that a building will catch fire over the same 30-year period is about 4 percent. Consequently, a borrower seeking a mortgage on a structure in a SFHA is more likely to experience a flood at that structure than a fire over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

Remember, standard property insurance does not cover flood damage.  So, don’t wait for the next flood to buy insurance protection.  There is a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance Program coverage takes effect.  Contact your insurance agent for more information on rates and coverage.

Property Protection

There are several different ways to protect a building from flood or storm damage.  One way is to raise your house above the Regulatory Flood Protection Elevation.  In the Town of Ocean Isle Beach this height is the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) plus 3 feet.  The new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM’s) that were put into effect in June 2006 placed many houses in the Town out of compliance.  Many flood zones were changed from AE to VE. 

Another approach is to install storm shutters on your windows.  During a storm flying debris can cause thousands of dollars of damages to structures.  This flying debris can break windows allowing rainfall to enter the building, damaging the contents.

More information on floodproofing and retrofitting can be found at the Rourk Library in Shallotte.  Remember, any alteration to your building or property requires a permit from the Planning and Inspections Department.

Flood and Storm Warnings

For information on watches and warnings for approaching storms you can tune to the followings stations:
  • WVCB Radio 1410 AM
  • WECT Television Channel 6 –  Wilmington
  • WWAY Television Channel 3 –  Wilmington
  •  NOAA Weather Radio Frequency 162.550 MHz –  Wilmington

Substantial Improvement Requirements

"Substantial Improvement ” means any combination of repairs, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, taking place during any one-year period for which the cost equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the “start of construction” of the improvement.  This term includes structures which have incurred “substantial damage”, regardless of the actual repair work performed. 

“ Substantial Damage ” means damage of any origin sustained by a structure during any one-year period whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.  See definition of “substantial improvement”.    Substantial damage also means flood-related damage sustained by a structure on two separate occasions during a 10-year period for which the cost of repairs at the time of each such flood event, on the average, equals or exceeds 25   percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. 

Drainage System Maintenance

There exists within the Town a system of drainage channels, which is necessary to help prevent localized flooding problems and to help remove stormwater from streets and roadways.  This drainage system is maintained by the Town of Ocean Isle Beach.  No person shall deposit any material within the system or otherwise interfere with the functioning of the drainage system. 

If you see dumping or debris in these channels please contact the Public Works Department at 910-579-2166.


Always check with the Building Department before you build on, alter, regrade or fill on your property.  A permit may be needed to ensure that projects do not cause problems on other properties and ensure compliance with the Town’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.

If you see building or filling without a Town permit sign posted please contact the Building Department at 910-579-3469.

Natural and Beneficial Functions of Floodplains

Undisturbed floodplains provide a wide range of benefits, such as:
  • Natural flood and erosion control:   provides flood storage and conveyance and reduces flood velocity.
  • Water quality:   filters nutrients and impurities from runoff.
  • Groundwater recharge:   reduces frequency and duration of surface flow.
  • Biological resources:   supports high rate of plant growth, provides breeding and feeding grounds and enhances waterfowl habitat.
  • Societal resources:   provides open space and aesthetic pleasures.  Also, in areas of scientific study provides opportunities for environmental research.