Important Information About Manatee County Flood Zones

If you currently live in Manatee County, FL, you may have heard the recent news about how the flood map of the county is being updated. If you do not currently live in Manatee county, but are considering purchasing property in Manatee county, then you might want to check out the updated flood map for the county.

How do the new Flood Zones Affect Me?
There are several ways in which the re-evaluation of the Manatee County flood zone map may affect you:

An increase in flood risk to high- If your home is in an area that was previously assessed to be low or moderate flood risk, there is a chance the new assessment may categorize the area containing your property as being a high-risk area now. If this happens, flood insurance will be federally mandated for your property. Thankfully, if you were already on flood insurance, you may be able to “grandfather,” or carry over benefits from, your existing policy to save money on the high-risk policy. For more complete information about what your options are, you may need to consult with an insurance agent.

A drop in flood risk to moderate or low- If your previous flood risk was high, the new assessment may actually show that your home or business’ flood risk is lower than it was previously assumed to be. In such an event, you may be able to drop your existing policy, but the mymanatee.org website recommends an alternative option. Rather than drop your existing policy, you can convert your policy to a lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy.

Risk level is unchanged- So, your specific risk has not gone down, but at least it has not increased, either. Still, it may be helpful to consult with your insurance agent to examine your potential risk, and weigh the cost of flood insurance versus the likelihood and severity of a flood reaching your property, especially in light of recent changes to the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program).

Yes, the changes to the NFIP mean that the average cost of flood insurance will rise, and some discounts may disappear. These changes are one reason why it is important to stay on top of information about your flood insurance, as they can have a significant impact on your expenses as a home or business owner.

To identify whether or not your home is affected by the change in the flood map of Manatee county, contact your real estate agent, or you can check the FEMA 100-Year Floodplain map and the updated Future FEMA map, which at the time of this article’s writing is still undergoing updates and alterations.

What do the Flood Zone Markings Mean?
On a typical FEMA flood map, there will be several color-coded flood threat zones ranging from C and X unshaded to VE and V1-30 risks, as well as zone D areas, but what do these appellations mean to you as a Manatee County resident? While a complete index of the various flood risks can be found on the FEMA website, here is a short, simplified list of the different flood zone codes:

Unshaded zone C and X- minimal flood risk, usually because the area is above the 500 year flood level.
Zone B and shaded zone X- An area that has a small to moderate risk of flood, whether the risk is naturally small, or if the area has had modifications made to it such as the installation of a levee that prevents flooding.
Zone A areas- There are many different Zone A flood categories, but the important thing to know is that a Zone A category flood area is a “High-Risk” area, and as such flood insurance is mandatory for properties in these areas. These areas generally have an at least 1 percent chance of flooding in any given year, or a 26 percent chance during the lifetime of a typical 30-year mortgage according to FEMA.

Zone V areas- A zone V, VE, or V#1-30 area is a coastal area that has been designated as high risk, so flood insurance is required for properties in these areas. If you can see the beach from your house, it is most likely in one of these zones.
Zone D- Undetermined flood hazard. These are areas where the risk of flooding has not been determined. The number of Zone D areas should be on the decline as more comprehensive flood maps are made each year. If you live in a Zone D area, it is necessary to have a professional risk assessment done in order to establish the necessity of obtaining flood insurance. Also, the lack of data for these areas makes the price of insurance slightly more volatile.

Things to do in Case of a Flood
If the worst should happen and your home is in the path of a flood, it is important to be prepared ahead of time. A critical first step in preparing for such an event is to study the evacuation routes and zones for your area, and plan out how to reach these routes in an emergency.

You can also prepare an emergency evacuation kit with a change of clothes, first aid items, and food that can be eaten without the need for cooking. Canned food items are ideal, as their containers render them highly water resistant and durable. It is important to keep these kits light enough to be carried on a long haul, as you may not be able to use your car during a flood.

During the actual evacuation, keep a radio tuned to the emergency broadcast channel for your area. This way, you can receive updates about the condition of evacuation routes you may be planning to use, and adjust your route accordingly. In all instances, you should never try to cross flood waters that are higher than your waist, as the current may force you off of your feet and carry you downstream, along with thousands of potentially hazardous objects that can cause harm through impacts. If you encounter emergency service personnel, follow their instructions as best as you can.

After the flood is over, you will want to ensure that the electricity to your home is turned off, as water may have damage your home’s electrical systems and pose an electrocution risk. For any amount of flood damage, you may want to contact a water-damage restoration service as quickly as you can in order to remove the excess water and dampness caused by flooding before it can cause further damage to your home. Remember, any amount of water left in a home for too long can promote the growth of mold and cause damage to the infrastructure of the building.

By knowing your risk factors and being prepared, you can avoid the potentially-fatal consequences of a flood, and turn a disaster into a mere inconvenience.