The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has advised Pinellas County that its Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are being revised and preliminary maps will be available soon. These new maps are based on revised coastal flood modeling and may affect owners of properties susceptible to flooding from the Gulf, Tampa Bay, and inland areas near waterways connected to the Gulf or Bay.
FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood hazard mapping is the basis for local and federal development regulations and flood insurance requirements. Flood hazard mapping in Pinellas County was last completed in 2009. The process usually takes several years to complete and includes the following steps:
In 2012, FEMA began a coastal flood risk study affecting Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Manatee, Citrus, and Hernando Counties. Newer technology is being used in this study to map the effects of high water combined with wind driven wave action.
The new flood hazard mapping information will be made available to the public on the Pinellas County Map Service Center once FEMA provides the Preliminary maps to the County. During the 90-day appeal period after the Preliminary maps are provided, the County, municipalities, and citizens may review and appeal or comment on the proposed flood hazard information shown on the Preliminary FIRM and/or FIS report. Public meetings will be held in affected areas. Pinellas County will perform an independent review of the mapping information and provide any comments to FEMA. FEMA requires submittal of scientific or technical data that proves the flood hazard information is shown in error to support an appeal.
After appeals have been resolved and the appeal period ends, FEMA will issue Letters of Final Determination (LFDs) which will make the updated flood hazard information final. Affected communities must then adopt the revised FIRM and update their floodplain management ordinances to comply with Federal and State standards. Communities will have 6 months to comply, after which, flood insurance will be required for properties that have a mortgage with a federally regulated or insured lender and are shown on the FIRM in a regulated flood zone or Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) . Flood insurance policies on properties affected by a flood zone and/or Base Flood Elevation (BFE) change will be adjusted to reflect rates associated with the changes as well.
To learn more about this FEMA FIRM update and coastal flood risk study process, please visit FEMA Information for West Florida.
General questions regarding this in-progress coastal flood risk study can be addressed to the FEMA staff listed below.