Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FEMA, Swiftmud update flood zone maps

WESLEY CHAPEL — Greg and Sandra Haxton stared at the map showing their property.

"It looks like you're out of the flood zone," said the Southwest Florida Water Management District employee who escorted them through the maze of maps on easels that lined the large room at Wesley Chapel High School.

"So we're okay," affirmed Greg Haxton.

The worker told him the maps, which were colored blue and green, were preliminary and subject to change.

"Also subject to Mother Nature," Greg Haxton said.

The news came as a relief to the 56-year-old couple, who moved to the home on Fussell Drive more than 30 years ago.

They were among the crowds who have turned out for a series of workshops sponsored by the water district, also known as Swiftmud. The district has been asked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to gather information needed to update flood maps, some of which are 10 to 30 years old.

Many are outdated due to changes caused by land use, development and erosion.

The district took aerial photographs and gathered terrain information to identify where water flows and collects. The information was then used to develop computer simulations. The results of the simulations were compared to historical and documented flooding when available to validate the accuracy of the computer model results.

The final versions of the maps are used to determine which property owners must buy flood insurance.

Changes can be costly

In a state in which one out of 10 are on food stamps, property values have plummeted and homeowners' insurance premiums have skyrocketed, having to pay more for any basic living expense hits hard.

"They're trying to make it where Floridians can't live in Florida anymore," Sandra Haxton, a native Floridian.

While the Haxtons left happy, William Henderson wasn't as fortunate.

"No good news for me," the 65-year-old said as he waited on a staffer to show him more information on the computer. Henderson, who lives in the flood-plagued Quail Hollow area, learned that more of his property would be included in the floodplain than just the tiny corner that is now.

"The whole back of my property is going to be in the floodplain," said Henderson, who already had to spend an extra $500 on flood insurance to get his home equity line extended. The self-employed carpenter's finances already are strained, with a daughter in college.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do at this point," he said.

During the meetings, which have been held across Pasco, preliminary models and floodplain information are presented to the public for review and comment. After addressing the comments, the floodplain information will be finalized and presented to the District's Governing Board for permission to develop the preliminary maps for submittal to FEMA.

FEMA will begin its adoption process, which includes technical reviews by FEMA and by Pasco County, more public comment, a 90-day appeals period, and issuance of a letter when the maps will take effect.

Pasco County anticipates adopting new maps starting next year, once the FEMA process is complete. The FEMA process should take nine to 12 months; but based on appeals, can take several years, Swiftmud spokeswoman Robyn Felix said.

The floodplain information will be used by the county for land use and zoning decisions; to help manage development in and around floodplains and wetlands; reduce flood risks; preserve land and water resources; and plan for emergencies. It will also provide valuable information to the public for decisions about purchasing and protecting property.

Residents attend the meetings that correspond to the watershed in which they live. Swiftmud also sent letters to residents telling them which meeting to attend.

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4604.

IF you go

See the new zones

A meeting for Trout Creek watershed residents is set for 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Wiregrass Ranch High School, 2909 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel.

A meeting for residents of the Cypress Creek watershed will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. April 2 at Wesley Chapel High School, 30651 Wells Road, Wesley Chapel.

For information, see Page 3.

Learn More

Check your home

To find out which watershed you live in, visit www.watermatters.org/floodrisk/.

Residents who could not attend their meeting may call the district for information about their property at (352) 796-7211, ext. 4297.

FEMA, Swiftmud update flood zone maps 03/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 23, 2009 9:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Crist votes for measure that includes money for Trump's wall

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON – Rep. Charlie Crist was for it and against it.

  2. Tampa man arrested in fatal motel shooting

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested on a manslaughter charge Thursday in the death of Yasmine L. Tyson on Monday night.

    Christopher Lee Carithers, 37, of Tampa
  3. St. Pete's Downtown Looper expands service with $900,000 grant

    Transportation

    ST. PETERSBURG ­— The Downtown Looper will expand its route and its hours starting in October 2018 thanks to a $900,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.

    A $900,000 DOT grant will finance two more trolleys, a longer route and longer service hours.
  4. Latest sewage crisis fallout: Higher utility bills in St. Pete

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For months the cost of the city's sewage crisis has been measured in terms of environmental damage, legal ramifications and political repercussions.

    Now residents are about to get the bill.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage during the height of the city's sewage crisis. Now the City Council is considering how much to raise utility rates to pay the $326 million bill to fix St. Petersburg's sewage system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets

    Blogs

    The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

    Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

    To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, …

    The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.