Not only is flooding one of the most common and costly disasters, the risk for flooding changes over time due to erosion, land use, new building and development, weather events and other factors. FEMA studies and restudies flood hazards in communities across the U. The process usually takes several years to complete and includes the following steps: Data collection and flood modeling Development of draft working maps Release of Preliminary maps for community review An appeal and resolution period Final adoption of the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps FIRMs and Flood Insurance Study FIS Each time FEMA provides a community with updated flood hazard data, the community must adopt or amend floodplain management regulations to incorporate the new data and meet any additional requirements that result from any changes in the data. This multi-year project to re-examine Pinellas County coastal flood zones and develop detailed, digital flood hazard maps has been completed. The County in partnership with its municipalities and FEMA held four open house style public meetings around the county soon after the release of the preliminary maps.

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Storm Surge Flooding Kills The greatest killer of people during hurricanes is storm surge — the dome of water pushed ashore by powerful hurricane winds. It rushes in and out sweeping anything not secured back out to sea, people included. During Hurricane Katrina, residents of coastal Mississippi were caught off guard by storm surge flood waters. Entire buildings were moved and the loss of life was staggering. Pinellas County is extremely vulnerable to surge flooding because of its coastal and low-lying geography.

Staying safe from surge flooding is easy. If a hurricane is predicted for Pinellas County and you live in a zone that has been ordered to evacuate, get out. Do not stay in an area at risk for surge flooding. Do not plan to escape to higher floors and do not wait until the last minute. Leave for higher ground and survive the storm.

Hurricane Katrina Historic Storm Surge Video Pinellas County Government is in no way endorsing or sponsoring any commercial products, services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation by providing the link to the above website. The link is provided solely for the information and convenience to the website visitors, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the Office of Emergency Management or Pinellas County Government.

When it comes to evacuating, there are many decisions to make. One of those decisions is whether to stay in Pinellas County or drive hundreds of miles to an out-of-town location. Finding high ground in Pinellas County is possible. The green areas on the map to the right are high enough to not be impacted by surge flooding from any hurricane.

Even for a Category 5 storm, a structure in these areas that is hardened to withstand high winds can provide safe shelter. Evacuating to a shelter within the county has its advantages.

You can avoid traffic jams and the uncertainty that comes with driving the crowded highways as other counties evacuate along with Pinellas. And you will avoid the crowds when it comes time to head home. If staying in Pinellas seems like a good decision, plan ahead to find safe shelter by asking friends, relatives or coworkers if they are willing to become a host home to you and your family during a storm or find a hotel or motel in the area in a non-evacuation zone.

They measure different conditions that may not occur at the same time. Each flood zone designation, represented by a letter or letters, tells homeowners exactly what the risk is for flooding at their property over a period of years, regardless of the cause. By law, all homes in high-risk zones carrying a mortgage must be covered by flood insurance. The evacuation zones are marked from A through E, plus non-evacuation zones.

The flood zones and evacuation zones are determined by different methods and have different purposes. A home may be located in a non-evacuation zone, yet still be located in a flood zone because of a nearby stream or pond. Residents must check both zones. An important thing to remember is that flood losses are not covered by homeowners insurance policies. The National Flood Insurance Program makes federally backed flood insurance available to residents and business owners. Any flooding damage covered under the policy — whether or not a federal disaster declaration is made — will be reimbursed per the policy limits, which can include structural damage or the loss of contents.

For more information on flood zones, visit our flooding website. Mandatory and Recommended Evacuations Should a hurricane threaten the Tampa Bay area, an evacuation order may be issued. What exactly does that mean? An evacuation order is given to get people away from the deadliest part of a hurricane — storm surge.

Evacuation levels are based on elevation above ground that could be inundated by the surge driven ashore during a storm. There is one notable exception to this: all mobile homes, regardless of their elevation, must be evacuated. They are vulnerable to the high winds of a hurricane and flying debris. There are two types of evacuations that can be ordered.

The first is a recommended evacuation. In the event of the approach of a tropical storm or a hurricane crossing the state and exiting over Pinellas, the potential for storm surge may not be as great.

This is done for the safety of those in areas known to be vulnerable. The second type is a mandatory evacuation. These evacuations will be ordered up to a certain letter zone and will always include mobile homes. It is illegal to stay in a home under a mandatory evacuation order. Under Florida Statute Chapter Does this mean the police will drag you out of your property? They will be too busy helping those who will be following the evacuation order, although they will likely ask for next of kin or an emergency contact.

However, this does provide law enforcement the basis to remove anyone who is impeding the flow of an evacuation. Remember, emergency managers are counting on you to be prepared and do the right thing to keep yourself and your family out of dangerous situations. Please know your evacuation zone and have a plan for where you will go should something happen this hurricane season.


Flood Zone Maps

These changes have homeowners and Realtors alike on the edge of their seats, wondering how this may affect insurance rates and home sales. Once approved, the new maps will help determine new flood insurance rates and standards for new construction in higher risk areas for storm surge or during heavy rains. But that assumed the waves would be a minimum of 3 feet tall. New data shows that waves as small as 1. FEMA drew a line on the new flood maps to show where those smaller waves are expected to begin.


Interactive: Pinellas County flood maps are changing. Here’s what’s different.

Log out Advertisement Our coronavirus coverage is now free for the first 24 hours. You can find the latest information at tampabay. Please consider subscribing to the Tampa Bay Times. Already a subscriber? Donate to our new Journalism Fund. Thank you. Interactive: Pinellas County flood maps are changing.

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