Recently, I wrote a letter to Pinellas County residents that was included with your water bill. The information is so important I want to review it here in case you didn’t see the letter.
We live in an area that is vulnerable to flooding from both storm surge and rain – and that’s especially true for the Feather Sound community. Rising seas and climate change will increase our risk in the years to come, as detailed by the Tampa Bay Times in February. That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to investigate your flooding risk, if you haven’t done so already, and make sure you’re protected.
I encourage all property owners and renters in Pinellas County to find out about their flood risk and how much flooding could cost you, to purchase flood insurance, and to understand what is covered under the flood insurance policy. Most homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from flooding, and most flood insurance doesn’t cover the loss of use, like paying for a hotel when you are repairing your flooded home. Many people don’t know that.
Because Pinellas County and most of its municipalities provide flood services and participate in FEMA’s Community Rating System, residents and businesses may get up to a 35 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums. The savings adds up to more than $25 million per year, countywide. Pinellas County understands that insurance is a complicated topic. That’s why we offer free flood insurance technical assistance from professionals who provide reliable information about your flood risk and step-by-step advisement about purchasing and understanding flood insurance. To get in touch with one of our insurance advocates, visit www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/advocates.htm or call (727) 464-7700.
Visit floodmaps.pinellascounty.org to see if your property is in a high, moderate or low risk flood zone, floodplain or floodway. You can learn if it’s in a storm surge area, how deep it could get and what your hurricane evacuation zone is. The maps also show if you live near protected areas that have natural floodplain functions. These areas store flood waters or buffer wave action while providing habitat for wildlife. You can also check if an elevation certificate is available for your property.
The FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and County Floodplains maps are used to determine building requirements to help protect you from flooding. Federal requirements for flood insurance are only based on the FEMA FIRM.
Find out what the flood hazard and required development standards are before you design your project. Consider raising your AC unit and other utilities to protect your investment from flood damage. Find out what permits are required, and always hire a licensed contractor. If you are building new, consider building stronger to withstand future storms (www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/buildsmart.htm).
Keep leaves, grass clippings and other debris out of storm drains and waterways to reduce pollution and flooding. Pollution from trash, yard waste, pet waste or pesticides that washes into waterways can lead to algae blooms and fish kills. When storm drains get clogged with debris, they can back up with water and cause flooding. Remember, only rain down the drain—it’s the law (Ordinance #06-13). To report illegal dumping, go to www.pinellascounty.org/reportanissue/ or call (727) 464-4425.
Prepare ahead and get a plan with the Ready Pinellas app, which has readiness checklists and allows you to create a plan for yourself, your family and your pets. Download the app for free on your mobile device through the Apple App Store or Google Play or visit www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/warning.htm for more information.
Tune in to local news stations or NOAA weather radio stations 162.450 or 162.550 to stay informed and sign up for Alert Pinellas to receive text, phone and/or email notifications if flooding is expected in your area. Visit www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas to sign up and for more information.
For more information contact Pinellas County Flood Information Services at www.pinellascounty.org/flooding or (727) 464-7700. Or contact your city directly: www.pinellascounty.org/Municipalities.htm. And as always, you can reach me at (727) 464-3363 or email@example.com.