In Florida, flooding is the No. 1 natural disaster. To identify flood hazards, the risks they pose to people and property, and the regulatory boundaries of floodplains, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) develops flood hazard maps, officially known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps or FIRMS.
In 2003, FEMA embarked on a comprehensive, five-year initiative to update the nation’s flood maps to reflect current flood risks, working with local governments, water management districts, and other partners. The new maps are digital, rather than paper-based, and easily viewable online. Today, Flood Map Modernization continues and is transforming the way flood maps are created, viewed and used.
Polk County’s current flood hazard data is from 2000 and out of date. During that time, drainage patterns changed dramatically due to land use, surface erosion and other natural forces. As a result, the likelihood of flooding in some areas has increased significantly. The technology used to estimate flooding also improved dramatically. Updated maps will more accurately represent the risk of flooding. These maps are an important tool in the effort to protect lives and properties in Polk. Digital maps will be updated regularly.
The Federal Flood Map Update project is a comprehensive effort to remap the county’s flood risks using the latest flood modeling and digital mapping technologies. The Southwest Water Management District and the South Florida Water Management District partnered with FEMA to ensure local input into the process. This allowed the water management districts to have a direct hand in working with the counties and communities within their boundaries. The water management districts will guide the remapping process and providing support and direction for the outreach that is performed by the local counties and communities.
The new digital flood maps will provide detailed, property-specific flood risk data to guide construction and flood insurance decisions. With the planned release of these maps in 2016, Polk residents and business owners will have up-to-date, reliable, Internet-accessible data about the flood hazards they face.