CSRA (WJBF) – Riverkeepers say more people in Georgia and South Carolina are experiencing unexpected flooding in their neighborhoods caused by developments.

These new developments in low-lying, coastal counties are particularly risky business.

“You have huge amounts of growth that’s happening, which means a lot more concrete in places, so now you have increased flooding where you didn’t before,” said Tonya Bonitatibus, the Executive Director for Savannah Riverkeeper.

Rainwater that used to go into wetlands or rivers is now going to homes, businesses, and other places that it doesn’t belong.

“With that wetland filled, a lot of this rainwater runoff doesn’t really have anywhere to go,” said Kris Howard, the Science and Policy Manager for Ogeechee Riverkeeper. “That’s causing flooding in a lot of new areas. So, we want to kind of track and see a few things.”

They’re looking to answer questions like: are there newly flooded areas that have never flooded before? Are they flooding more often? And how much rain does it take to cause flooding in these areas?

That’s where the survey tool comes in.

“This app is an easy tool for any citizen to go on and say, ‘I’ve had flooding for years in my area, it’s not getting better,’ or, ‘hey, I’ve never flooded before and now I’m starting to,'” Bonitatibus said.

“You can take pictures of it so you can see the flooding, you can estimate how many inches are flooded, whether you own the property or not, whether it’s commercial property or public property,” Howard said.

After reports are collected, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and Savannah Riverkeeper will use them to pinpoint flooding hotspots.

That data can be presented to county decision-makers and the public, hopefully improving developmental planning in the future.

“We hear a lot that people do reach out to a local municipality and that may fall on deaf ears. Well, that also means that it stops there,” Bonitatibus said. “So again, it’s about making it so that the data is available so that other decision makers can then realize there’s a problem and begin working on pushing to affect change.”

To use the survey tool, click here.