Hillsborough County and FEMA are in the process of releasing new flood maps for the coastal areas of Hillsborough County.

Residents and business owners near SouthShore’s coastal areas should take note. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Hillsborough County are in the process of releasing new flood maps, which will change the area’s insurance and building requirements.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) show the potential extent and risks of flooding in an effort to alert residents of possible hazards, in addition to changing the regulation requirements. States and communities can also use the information for emergency management.

According to County Senior Media Relations Strategist Chris Wilkerson, approximately 37,000 homes in Hillsborough County will be affected by the changes. These residents will all receive letters from the county explaining the differences.

The new maps, which were presented to the public at meetings earlier this month, were updated recently for the first time in 30 years using technology and improved data that was unavailable previously.

“Technology has advanced significantly over the last 30 years and we now have a much better idea of where the water will go,” said Wilkerson, who explained that experts have been working on the updates since 2013. “The revised maps better reflect the risks of building in specific areas.”

According to Wilkerson, the revisions in the maps will not only help residents and business owners make decisions about protecting their property, but will also allow community planners, local officials, engineers, builders and others to make important determinations about where and how new structures and developments should be built.

Residents who attended the meetings were able to discuss the potential impacts of the map changes. Experts from FEMA and Hillsborough County were on hand to help property owners discuss insurance options and answer specific questions about the impact of the changes on their homes or businesses as well as explain how the maps were determined.

According to FEMA’s Danon Lucas, following the community meetings and open houses where residents are able to view the new maps, there is a 90-day appeal and comment period.

“To support and appeal, the community or individual must submit scientific or technical data that proves the flood hazard information is shown in error,” said Lucas.

FEMA has made the map changes available to residents at https://msc.fema.gov/fmcv. Hillsborough County flood maps are also available at www.HCFLGov.net/FloodMaps. Property owners looking for more information should call 635-5400 or visit www.FloodSmart.gov.