Know Your Flood Hazard
Flooding results from two major sources in the City of Sarasota. Coastal areas are subject to surge and coastal waves from the Gulf of Mexico. Inland areas flood when rainfall accumulates in low, flat areas with inadequate or poorly maintained drainage systems. Rainfall occurs primarily due to thunderstorms in the summer months, with additional rainfall occurring with the passage of hurricanes or tropical systems.
The Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is the area that has a 1% chance of being flooded in any given year, or approximately a 25% chance of being flooded over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Smaller floods have a greater chance of occurring in any year and can still create a significant flood hazard.
Insure Your Property and Contents for Your Flood Hazard
One of the best protection measures for a building with a flood problem is National Flood Insurance Policy (NFIP), which is purchased through any property insurance agent. If the building is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), there is a mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement for all federal or federally related assistance mortgages. Be sure to include the cost of a flood insurance policy in your mortgage and financial planning. In the City of Sarasota, regardless of where your property is located, owners and renters are eligible for flood insurance.
Protect People from Flood Hazards
There are several actions that you can take to mitigate the flood hazard, including but not limited to:
- Know the flood warning procedures.
- Plan escape routes.
- During times of heavy rainfall, monitor the level of water and stay tuned to radio or TV for possible flood warnings.
- Evacuate the flood hazard area in times of impending flood or when advised to do so by the Department of Public Safety.
- DO NOT attempt to cross a flooding stream or area on foot or by car.
- Turn around, Don’t drown!
- If a vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Keep children away from flood waters, ditches, culverts and storm drains.
- Be especially cautious at night
Protect Your Property from Flood Hazards
Retrofitting structures can minimize flood damage. Sometimes it is possible to elevate a structure. Commercial buildings can possibly install floodgates or employ other flood proofing measures.
Flood proofing manuals and information on retrofitting techniques are available for review in the Building Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, and the reference section of the Library. Technical advice on construction techniques can also be received at the Building Department.
Emergency measures to minimize damage during a flood situation include removing furniture, properly securing structures and glass, sandbagging and following proper evacuation procedures.
Citizens, especially those with properties located in a SFHA (Special Flood Hazard Area), are encouraged to contact the Building Department prior to building, repairing, filling or otherwise developing their property, to determine what permits are needed. Early contact eliminates confusion as to regulations and helps avoid delays in permitting.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, regulations require that if the cost of reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvements to a structure equals or exceeds 50% of the structure’s market value, the building must be upgraded to meet the same construction requirements as a new building. To get specific information, you can contact the Flood Zone Specialist prior to planning any construction at 941-263-6491.
Protect Natural Floodplain Functions
Protecting floodplains and open spaces helps all residents. The benefits and functions of a floodplain include flood protection, improved water quality, recharged aquifers, improved wildlife habitat, recreational industries (like kayaking and fishing), and sustainable agriculture (Source: The Nature Conservancy).
The City of Sarasota has adopted the Sarasota City Plan, which provides for environmental protection and preservation of recreation and open space. Our goal is to see that our natural features such as Lido Beach and our many fine parks that are located in flood-prone areas remain under developed so they can serve their natural function.
Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. Follow the basic preparedness tips:
- Know where to go.
- Prepare and maintain a disaster kit.
- Gather supplies for at least three days.
- Evacuate if told to do so.
- Make a family communications plan.
- Keep important documents in a safe place.
- Protect your property.
- Review insurance policies
The impact of a hazard event upon the community, economy, and tax base is directly dependent upon the severity of the event. A situation with a Hurricane with a 10-foot storm surge has the potential impact of loss of life, particularly if hospitals are not accessible due to debris obstructing the transportation arteries or if residents in low lying areas refuse to evacuate when ordered to do so. Loss of property, utility service, and personal security also has a direct impact on the ability of the businesses to conduct commerce. Businesses must be prepared to contend with a reduction in the number of employees who are able to work, even if their physical facilities are able to continue operation, if the homes of their employees are severely damaged as a result of a hazard event.
Flood mitigation goes beyond dollars and cents. The benefits of mitigation cannot be overstated. Community leaders are driven to take action in order to:
- Avoid property losses.
- Avoid business and education interruption.
- Benefits the ecosystem.
- Avoid loss of critical infrastructure.
- Revitalized neighborhoods.
- Improve public open spaces.
- Enhance public safety.
- Increase competitiveness of the community.
Sea Level Rise
The City of Sarasota is very susceptible to the potential impacts of Sea Level Rise (SLR). Globally, sea level has increased approximately eight inches during the 20th century (U.S. Global Change Research Program) although changes in sea levels vary around the world.
Not only will projected increases in sea level affect homes and infrastructure along the coast, but more frequent inland flooding can occur due to high tailwater conditions that can diminish the stormwater system capacity to send runoff to the Gulf of Mexico.
Protect Your Pets During a Flooding Event
If you are like millions of animal owners nation-wide, your pet is an important member of your household.
Preparing now makes sense. Pets need a lot of the same things people do except they are not welcome everywhere. You need to have a plan in place in case of an emergency. Stay informed if an event is headed your way and know what your doing with the pets in advance. Do not leave you pet home alone if you evacuate. You do not know when you will be able to return home.