IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR RESIDENTS AND PROPERTY OWNERS REGARDING THE RISK OF FLOODS IN SEMINOLE COUNTY
The Local Flood Hazard
For the majority of the county, the primary causes of flooding are tropical systems and afternoon thunderstorms, which generally occur from June to November, during the rainy season. Certain areas of Seminole County are low-lying and subject to flooding from rising water. Specific areas include the St. Johns River, Lake Harney, and Lake Jesup.
The other flood problem involves storm water runoff that occurs in many locations. This problem has recently become more critical because of development in areas subject to urban flooding. Many homeowners and businesses do not carry flood insurance, which can result in high uninsured losses.
The Flood Warning System
Seminole County has a Comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (CEOP) that includes a variety of warning systems, outlined below, to provide citizens with up to the minute information on impending storms or flood threats.
The Division of Emergency Management manages a preparedness website (www.prepareseminole.org) centered on disaster preparedness and prevention. Through the Alert Seminole website, registration allows users to be notified during an emergency by immediately sending text messages to your:
- E-mail account (work, home, etc)
- Cell phone
Seminole County Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
The Seminole County EOC works with the cities, the National Weather Service, and the National Hurricane Center to monitor flood and storm threats and advise the community accordingly.
Television / Radio Stations to Tune In To
The following stations serve the Seminole County area:
Seminole Government Television (SGTV) on cable Channel 9
WUCF (89.9) FM at the top of every hour
The Citizens’ Information Line, (CIL) 407-665-0311. CIL operators provide information on evacuation procedures, shelter, water, food, and ice locations, as well as a variety of other information. The CIL operates around the clock during disaster operations.
Seminole County Emergency Operations Plan
When a storm or flood threatens to impact the county, the Emergency Management staff monitor the event. The staff rely on information from the National Weather Service for detailed and site specific information regarding storm conditions and flood threats. Emergency Management staff disseminate watches, warnings, updates and evacuation notices.
Flood Safety Measures
You can protect yourself from flood hazards by taking measures to ensure the safety of life and property before, during and after a flood occurs.
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to see how deep the water is.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don’t drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electric current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your Utility Company.
- For many people, their home and its contents represent their greatest investment. Property losses due to flooding are not covered under most standard homeowners’ insurance policies. You can protect your home and its contents with flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- The NFIP is a federal program established by Congress in 1968 which enables property owners to buy flood insurance at reasonable rates in participating communities. In return, participating communities carry out flood management measures designed to protect life and property from future flooding.
- The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through its Federal Insurance Administration. Seminole County has participated in the NFIP since 1984.
To find out more about flood insurance for your property and its contents, contact your insurance agent. There is usually a 30 day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect, so don’t wait until a storm threatens before you secure the flood insurance you need.
- Do not walk through flowing water
- Stay away from power and electrical lines
- Do not drive through a flooded area
- Have the electricity turned off
- Look out for animals, especially snakes
- Be alert for gas leaks (use a flashlight to inspect for damage
Maximum Coverage for Flood Insurance
The flowing chart lists the amounts of maximum coverage available to property owners within Seminole County.
Single Family Dwelling $250,000
Other Residential $250,000
Small Business $500,000
Small Business $500,000
Property Protection Measures
Every year, flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other type of natural disaster. While recent construction practices and regulations have made new homes less prone to flooding, many existing structures remain susceptible. Throughout the country there is a growing interest from property owners to develop practical and cost effective methods for reducing or eliminating exposures to flooding. Several effective ways include acquisition and relocation of a building to a site not subject to flooding, construction of floodwalls or berms to keep water away from the property, or retrofitting structures to make them floodproof. Retrofitting is a different approach from the other ways because the property itself remains subject to flooding while the building is modified to prevent or minimize flooding of habitable space.
Retrofitting to Help Prevent Flood Damage
There are several recognizable approaches to retrofitting:
- Elevation of the structure above flood protection levels.
- Construction of barriers (floodwalls, berms)
- Dry floodproofing (water tight floor and wall systems)
- Wet floodproofing (permits entry and passage of flood waters)
Actions to Take When a Flood Threatens
When a flood threatens, it is always advisable to take the following emergency actions:
- Sand bagging to reduce erosion and scouring.
- Elevate furniture above flood protection levels.
- Create floodway openings in non-habitable areas such as garage doors.
- Seal off sewer lines to the dwelling to prevent the backflow of sewer waters.
Floodplain Development Permit Requirements
Any development in the floodplain requires a building permit according to the Land Development Code Ch. 30.965.
To inquire about obtaining a floodzone determination or a copy of a FEMA elevation certificate or suspect illegal floodplain development is occurring, call the Seminole County Building Division at 407-665-7335.
Additionally, in accordance with NFIP standards, Seminole County Land Development Code requires if the cost of any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvements to a building equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s market value, work is considered a substantial improvement. The existing building is required to meet the same standards as a new building or residential structures, these requirements typically mean raising the living area of the building to 1 foot above base flood elevation.
Substantial Improvement Requirements
Substantial improvement shall mean any repair from damage and or destruction, reconstruction, improvement, or additions to the structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of property assessed tax value of the structure as is listed by the Seminole County Property Appraisers Office or by a certified appraisal. The assessed value of the structure shall be determined before the improvement is started, or if the structure has been damaged and is being restored, before the damage or destruction occurred.
Drainage Systems Maintenance
A community can lose a portion of its drainage system capacity or storage capacity due to dumping, debris, soil erosion, sedimentation, and overgrowth of vegetation. When this happens, flooding occurs more frequently and reaches higher elevations, subjecting properties otherwise protected from unnecessary risk of damage. Keep grass clippings and clear debris out of Stormwater drainage systems to prevent clogging and lost of Stormwater storage and treatment capacity. Per Land Development Code Appendix B county ordinance, it is illegal to dump trash and debris into drainage ways.
If you experience any localized drainage problems or see illegal dumping, please notify the Seminole County Public Works Department at 407-665-5601 so that the problem can be corrected.
Helpful Sources of Information
In addition to your local Emergency Management Agency office and local Red Cross office,
You can find helpful information on the Internet at these two sites:
Federal Management Emergency Agency (FEMA) – www.fema.gov
American Red Cross – www.redcross.org