Pinellas County residents may find themselves living in a flood zone after a recent update to coastal flood maps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These new changes can mean higher or lower flood insurance premiums for some people.
“We're advising individuals to go on to our flood map service center and look up what their flood map change is,” said Lisa Foster, Pinellas County Floodplain Coordinator. “If there is a change in their flood risk, they should contact their flood insurance agents so that they can make sure that they lock in the best premiums as soon as possible.”
Since the update, Pinellas County officials have scheduled three meetings where residents can get answers to questions they may have.
“Flood risk does change over time as things like weather and development change,” said Foster. “This FEMA map update better reflects current information and it's important for our residents to understand what their current flood risk is so that they can plan appropriately.”
According to Foster, the meetings will not have a formal presentation.
“Residents can show up at any time during the open house meetings. Guests will be greeted, given a worksheet and then they can walk around to all of the stations,” said Foster.
People who attend these meetings are advised, but not required, to bring their current flood insurance information and elevation certificates with them.
“We will have insurance specialists there that residents can talk to and determine what the best plan of action is for them based on what changes,” said Foster. “We will also have an engineer there that can answer questions about the actual technical aspects of the modeling for the new maps as well.”
The Southwest Florida Water Management District will also be in attendance for all three meetings.
“They will be able to provide information on what their role in floodplain management is with us,” said Foster.
The meetings will take place Tuesday, June 11, from 2–4 p.m. and 6–8 p.m. at Lealman Exchange, 5715 45th St. N in St. Petersburg and June 25, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Oldsmar City Council Chambers at 100 State St. W.
The three meetings in June are the last of the scheduled ones regarding the new flood map updates. People needing a translator at a meeting should contact Pinellas County officials in advance.