Preliminary maps of the Hudson and Whitaker bayou floodplains show primary flood zones now stretch inland as far east as Tuttle Avenue.
With its new mapping technology, the state is more accurately drawing flood-zone boundaries in Sarasota.
Although that means that more people will know if they are more at risk for flooding, it also means if those people have a mortgage, they will now have to pay for flood insurance. Flood-insurance rates can run from several hundred dollars per year for inland residents to several thousand dollars per year for those on the coast.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District is creating a much more detailed map, created with laser technology, of the Hudson and Whitaker bayou floodplains. The current maps were created in the early 1980s and depict mostly coastal homes at risk of flooding.
The new maps will include many inland areas that flood due to heavy rains — areas south of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to about Webber Street and as far east as Tuttle Avenue.
“The point we want to make is that we want people to know what their risk really is,” said Dawn Turner, SWFWMD project manager.
When complete, the new mapping will add 4,225 parcels of land to the list of those in primary flood zones. About 3,000 of those are residential parcels. Fewer than 300 parcels will be removed from the new zone.
SWFWMD has begun conducting public workshops to gather input from Sarasota residents.
Turner said the workshops are designed to allow property owners to appeal the new maps. She said some people may say that although the map shows they’re in a flood zone, it never floods there. Any of those claims will be investigated.
After that process, FEMA will then hold a series of workshops and also hear appeals. Turner said the new flood-zone maps will likely not be implemented for another one to two years.
The Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations has hosted one of those workshops.
“Some people are concerned, as they should be,” said Kate Lowman, CCNA president.
County Commissioner Jon Thaxton believes that not many people are aware of the impact of the new flood-zone mapping.
“I haven’t heard from anyone,” he said. “It’s amazing. I don’t think the full gravity has hit homeowners.”
Thaxton said although the project has been in the works for a long time, the end result couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“Those flood insurance policies are not cheap,” he said.
FLOOD ZONE MAPS
Parcels in current flood zones 911
Parcels to be added 4,225
Parcels to be removed 270