This month, the Board of County Commissioners is helping to get the word about an important development for Pinellas County residents.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) recently updated the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for the coastal areas of Pinellas County. The new map is effective on Aug. 24, 2021. The map determines or impacts the following:

  • flood insurance requirements
  • flood insurance rates
  • building requirements.

It’s based on revised coastal flood modeling and may affect owners of properties susceptible to flooding from the Gulf, Tampa Bay, and inland areas near waterways connected to the gulf or Tampa Bay.

We were reminded by Tropical Storm Eta last November how vulnerable parts of our county are to to flooding. Many residents are still rebuilding from the damages sustained. That’s why it’s important for you to know what your current flood zone is, to understand your flood risk, and to be prepared not only for flooding, but to recover after a flood.

Flood insurance will help protect you from the financial devastation of flooding. We all live in a flood zone. That may be high-, moderate- or low-risk. Most lenders require flood insurance if you have a mortgage on a home or business in a high-risk flood zone. Almost a quarter of claims submitted are for properties in low- and moderate-risk flood zones. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk flood zone, flood insurance is recommended and is usually available at a highly discounted rate.

You should know what is covered by your flood insurance policy. Many residents that were displaced from their flooded homes after Tropical Storm Eta did not realize they didn’t have Loss of Use Coverage providing for the cost of making other living arrangements during. There are also separate flood coverages for contents and building. Make sure you have enough coverage for both.

If the risk level for a property changes on the FIRM, so may the flood insurance rate and the requirement to carry a flood policy. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is also changing the way they rate flood insurance policies starting Oct. 1, 2021, with a new program called Risk Rating 2.0. Talk to your insurance agent about getting a flood insurance policy in place before these changes take place.

View the new FIRM on the online Flood Map Information Service at While you are on the map service also be sure to look up your hurricane storm surge risk and evacuation zone.

To be clear, flood zones are different from evacuation zones. I encourage you to learn more about your flood risk, know your evacuation zone in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane and purchase flood insurance to protect your home and business. It’s the best way to ensure your family and future is financially protected.

If you live in unincorporated Pinellas County and have questions, you can call the Flood Information Services hotline at (727) 464-7700. Property owners within municipal boundaries should call their city.

As always, please send me any of your comments or concerns. You can email me at