July 16, 2009

The Southwest Florida Water Management District and Sarasota County continue to work diligently to gather input needed to update the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The county is also working with staff from the cities of North Port, Venice, Sarasota and the Town of Longboat Key

Most of the current FIRMs are 10 to 30 years old and are outdated because of natural and physical changes caused by land use, development and erosion. The new modern FIRMs will replace the old paper flood maps for the unincorporated and incorporated areas of Sarasota County.

“The preliminary floodplain information was scheduled to be submitted to FEMA by September,” said Dawn Turner, District project manager. “However, new topographical data, which updates the information from 2004 to 2007, became available and modeling was refined to identify the floodplain more accurately.”

Sarasota County will begin holding public meetings, with support from the District, in the fall to present preliminary floodplain information and explain the basis behind the findings. This information will be used to identify areas of flood risk in the preliminary FIRMs, which are based on watershed boundaries.

During the meetings, preliminary models and floodplain information will be presented to the public for review and comment. After addressing the comments, the floodplain information will be finalized and prepared for submittal to FEMA. This announcement revises the submittal date to late 2010.

Upon receipt of the preliminary FIRMs, FEMA will begin its FIRM adoption process, which includes:

  • A technical review by FEMA
  • Review by Sarasota County
  • Public input
  • A 90-day appeals period
  • Issuance of a letter of final determination that informs Sarasota County and the public of the date when the FIRMs will be considered effective

The FEMA process should take nine to 12 months, but based on appeals can take several years.

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 planning for emergencies. It will also provide valuable information to the public for decisions about purchasing and protecting property.

In December, a Regional Floodplain Management Planning and Coordination Committee (RFMPCC) that includes staff from North Port, Venice, Sarasota, the Town of Longboat Key and Sarasota County developed a web site to keep the public informed on the progress.

“That web site has been updated to reflect the new timeline,” said Desiree Companion, Sarasota County CFM, CRS Coordinator and RFMPCC chair.

Map Adoption Schedule

Winter/Spring 2009: Data Collection
Fall/Winter 2009, Spring 2010: Public Meetings to Review Preliminary Model Results
Summer 2010: Draft Maps Produced, 90-Day Appeal and Protest Period
Fall/Winter 2010: Local and Federal review begins
Fall/Winter 2011: New Digital FIRMS are adopted

For more information, please visit the web site at http://www.scgov.net/floodmapupdates.com or call Sarasota County at (941) 861-5000 and ask for information about the flood map update.

 
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