EAST MANATEE -- Updated flood-risk maps for the Braden River watershed show thousands of properties being reclassified from low-risk to high-risk.
In the Braden River watershed, the updated digital maps show there are 6,407 properties going from low- to high-risk flood areas, 1,060 staying at high, and 689 properties going from high to low-risk, said Robyn Felix, spokeswoman for Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Both the current and updated preliminary maps show high risk among properties closest to the river, but in the preliminary updated maps, water features like lakes, rivers and wetlands make up 26 percent of the watershed and 66 percent of the proposed high-risk areas.
The maps were discussed during a recent meeting at Lakewood Ranch High School, attended by 150 residents.
Flood-zone hazard maps help determine the cost of flood insurance, which typically is not covered in homeowners insurance.
The district is a partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is updating flood hazard maps across the country. The new flood hazard maps will show flood risks at a property-by-property level and will allow better planning when determining where and how new structures and developments should be built.
"We really have an obligation, and our local communities, to make sure people are aware of risks that exist and flooding is the most common and costly risk," said Mary Olsen, spokesperson for FEMA's Region 4 branch, which covers Florida and other southeast states.
Prior to the updated maps, the most recent flood map for
the Sarasota County portion of the watershed was completed in 1984. Manatee County's map was created in 1992. Because the new maps have not gone into effect, Olsen said current property owners in high-risk areas may be eligible for preferred risk policies and prior to moving into high risk areas, property owners may be able to apply for the rates based on the current map, but advised they seek consultation from their insurance agent.
"Even in low-risk areas should they consider flood insurance," Olsen said. "Twenty-five percent of claims come from outside high-risk areas."
Improvements made by Manatee County years ago led to residents saving more than $2.6 million in flood insurance premiums for 2011. In 2010, the county received a Class 5 ranking through FEMA's Community Rating System, which ranks community floodplain management on a scale of 1-10. In 2004, the county received a Class 6 ranking.
Once the preliminary maps are approved by the governing board of state water districts controlled by Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the maps will be sent to FEMA for review, Felix said.
FEMA will then meet with county officials and the county will administer another round of public meetings.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Follow on Twitter @_1NickWilliams