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Environment

New Flood Maps Could Be In Place By Next Year For Sarasota County Homeowners

Flooding on Kingston Drive in Sarasota on August 8, 2013.
Flooding on Kingston Drive in Sarasota on August 8, 2013.
Flooding on Kingston Drive in Sarasota on August 8, 2013.
Credit Roger / Creative Commons
Flooding on Kingston Drive in Sarasota on August 8, 2013.

Some homeowners in Sarasota County might have to purchase flood insurance for the first time or pay to elevate their property sometime next year. County officials are updating flood maps, which could shift more than 42,000 properties into high risk zones.

More than half of the properties affected are in North Port. That’s mostly because current maps were drawn when no one was living there.

However, using new technology, officials are working to map out the whole county’s flooding risk during rain or hurricanes. Right now, the county’s maps are decades old.

Desiree Companion is working on these maps for Sarasota County. She said the county’s had the same maps for decades—so, it’s a good thing officials have better information now.

However, Companion said these changes could affect residents in a very personal way because they have financial implications.

“We are absolutely wanting to assist people, but we also have a public health and safety issue and community liability,” she said. “So it is our job, good news or bad news to let people know if they are at risk.”

About 4,400 properties were shifted into high risk flood zones in the City of Sarasota.  More than 10,000 in unincorporated Sarasota County, and the city of Venice could have another 5,000 at high risk for flooding.

Companion also said this effort to make the maps more accurate won’t just affect homeowners. She said public officials are finding them helpful.

“The cities: North port, Venice, Sarasota—really benefited from high detail,” she said. “A couple of our drainage basins got some high detail in south county and in north county. But that intense study is of huge valuable for the product accuracy.”

Companion said the county will be updating the maps often—likely annually over the next 6 to 8 years.

The updated maps are part of a federal initiative requiring a lengthy approval process. So, Sarasota’s new maps likely won’t be in effect for another year.  

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