Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or entire community; or they can be very large, affecting an entire regional river basin or multiple states.
All floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, possibly over a period of days, while others can develop quickly and without any visible signs of rain.
It is important to be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live. But it is especially important to be aware if you live in low-lying areas or near water. Very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying grounds that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.
To see the potential flooding sources in your area visit FEMA Flood Map Service Center.
|My homeowner's policy will cover any flood damage.||Not all homeowner's policies cover flood damage. Check your policy and/or with your insurance agent. Flood insurance can also be purchased from FEMA.|
|It has never flooded here, so it never will.||Floods are caused by weather conditions and are unpredictable. Flooding can occur anywhere under the right conditions.|
|There was a flood problem, but it has been fixed.||Although some flooding issues can be mitigated it is very difficult to fix a flooding problem.|
|If flooding was a problem, someone would have told us.||Check with Polk County Floodplain Management at (863) 534-6765 to find out if an area has flooded in the past or to determine if you are in a Special Flood Hazard Area.|
|It's only water. It's no big deal to be flooded.||Even a few inches of water can bring thousands of dollars in repair and restoration costs.|
|We just had a 100-year flood, so my family will be safe from future flooding for the rest of their lives.||The 100-year flood has a one percent chance of occurring in any given year. Statistically, there is more than a 1 in 4 chance of this type of flood occurring during a 30-year mortgage; however, they can occur much more frequently.|
Different Flood Zones
Flood zones are land areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Each flood zone describes that land area in terms of its risk of flooding. Everyone lives in a flood zone–it’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate or high-risk area.
|Risk Level Catagory||Flood Hazard Zone|
|High Flood Risk||AE, A, AH or AO Zone. These properties have a one percent chance of flooding in any year and a 26 percent chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Insurance Note: High-risk areas are called Special Flood Hazard Areas, and flood insurance is mandatory for most mortgage holders.|
|Low or Moderate Flood Risk||Shaded X Zone: These properties are outside the high-risk zones. The risk is reduced but not removed. X Zone: These properties are in an area of lower risk. Insurance Note: Lower-cost preferred rate flood insurance policies (known as Preferred Risk Policies) are often an option in these areas.|
Importance of Floodplains
Floodplains in our county serve a beneficial purpose to our quality of life. These low areas are where rainfall goes to drain. When the rainfall drains into the ground, it helps reduce flooding and recharges our drinking water supply. Some examples of floodplains in the county include the areas surrounding Gator Creek, Itchepackesassa Creek and Peace Creek.
These floodplains also serve as filters of stormwater runoff as it seeps through the ground and into our aquifer. The natural vegetation filters out impurities and uses excess nutrients. This aquifer is our only source of drinking water, and filtering helps contain pollution before it reaches our aquifer. It is important that we appreciate our floodplains, and try to maintain, preserve and restore these areas whenever possible.
Floodplain land and adjacent waters combine to form a complex, dynamic physical and biological system found nowhere else. When portions of floodplains are reserved in (or restored to) their natural state, they provide many benefits to both human and natural systems. For example, by allowing floodwater to slow down, sediments settle out, thus maintaining water quality.
These benefits range from providing aesthetic pleasure to reducing the number and severity of floods, helping handle stormwater runoff and minimizing non-point water pollution.
Such natural processes cost far less money than it would take to build facilities to correct flood, stormwater, water quality and other community problems.
To learn more about your area, visit the Southwest Florida Water Management District or the South Florida Water Management District.