Do You Know Your Flood Zone?
By Victoria Figueiredo
Summer may almost be over, but Florida is still in the thick of storm and hurricane season, which ends on November 30th this year. As we all keep prepared for any wayward tropical depressions and those sudden downpours we all love so much, it’s important to know your flood zone!
Why bother? When a county has as much coastline (588 miles, to be exact) and as many homes at or under sea level as Pinellas County does, flood zones become really important really quickly. The more it rains, the more likely you are to experience some kind of flooding in or around your home. This may not seem like a huge issue until you remember that as little as a foot of floodwater can carry away an entire car. That puts things in perspective for you.
Staying in your home is not always the best plan when it starts to flood. Aside from water that isn’t even knee deep carrying away large objects and debris, underground power lines that become submerged can create a shock hazard, ground mounted transformers can fail or explode, low lying electrical equipment can become submerged and old breakers may not trip (dangerous!), docks and their related electrical can be ruined, contaminated water can fill homes, cars, and pools, pets are often abandoned when unprepared owners can’t bring them to emergency shelters, people quickly find out how inadequate their insurance is… we could go on forever. Moral of the story? KNOW YOUR ZONE AND GET A WORKABLE PLAN.
What you should do to prepare for storm surges and what your plan for evacuation or staying safe during flooding might entail both depend on your flood zone. These can vary even within the same neighborhood, so the best thing to do is visit www.pinellascounty.org/emergency to find out what your zone is and get a plan to keep your family safe. Be sure to make note of any special arrangements you may need to make, especially for pets, family members with special needs, and small children. Pinellas County is extremely helpful and even provides an All Hazards Preparedness Guide online, which includes all the resources you need to be prepared, as well as sources for you to learn more about flooding and disaster prep.