PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) - Homeowners in Pinellas County, listen up. 8 On Your Side has important information you need to know about flood insurance.
New FEMA flood maps could mean higher rates for people who live in flood-prone neighborhoods.
There is good news and bad news. People who live along the gulf coast may benefit from the new FEMA maps. But closer to Tampa Bay, the flooding risk appears to be higher.
People in Florida love to live near the water. But that beauty comes at a cost.
“In the back yard, like in the open lot in the back, it'll flood a little bit,” said Ivy Gamble.
She and many of her neighbors near a Largo creek have elevated houses. They have to be on alert when a hurricane threatens, like Irma.
“Everyone in this neighborhood had to evacuate just because of the creek being so close, just in case,” said Gamble.
Lisa Foster, the Pinellas County Floodplain Coordinator is evaluating the new FEMA maps.
“It's critical that they know which flood zone they're in. Everyone is in a flood zone,” said Foster.
New FEMA maps are out, and some homeowners that were in low risk zones, under the new plan, will be in moderate or high risk.
The maps are preliminary right now.
“Once those go into force, you want to make sure that you have your flood insurance policy in place, especially if you're going into a flood hazard area, high-risk flood hazard area, whereas you were not in one before,” said Foster.
8 On Your Side discovered doing so will lock in rates and save you money for at least a year.
“It's a very good precautionary measure to have a flood insurance policy so that if there is a flooding event, they can recuperate much more quickly,” said Foster.
“I would be alarmed if I wasn't high up,” said Gamble. Her house sits a few feet above the level of the road and her driveway.
Admired for its beauty, water can be an enemy in heavy rains and when hurricanes hit.
One very important note: Your “evacuation zone” is not your “flood zone” designation.
If you want to find out where your home sits for flooding risk, click here.