Just as the memory of Hurricane Ian’s Gulf Coast landing fades from the minds of Hillsborough County residents, it is again time to get ready for potential foul weather disasters of the annual storm season that runs from June 1 to Thursday, November 30.
That preparation includes considering the need for flood insurance to cover water damage that is not usually a part of standard homeowners insurance policies.
One option is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federal program that provides flood insurance to residents in areas that are at risk of flooding. Hillsborough County is a participant in the NFIP Community Rating System, which means that residents and businesses in the county are eligible to purchase flood insurance through the program. According to a public letter released by Hillsborough County’s engineering and operations department, that could mean a financial benefit to residents.
“The county’s participation in this program gives residents the ability to obtain federal flood insurance at a discount of up to 25 percent. The county’s high level of participation and many hazard mitigation efforts has placed it within the top 10 percent of participating communities within the nation. This provides approximately $5.9 million in savings off federal flood insurance premiums paid by residents annually.”
The CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management practices that exceed the minimum requirements established by the NFIP. According to Christina Hummel, Hillsborough County’s NFIP Community Rating System coordinator, the county’s emergency management efforts are making a difference.
“Hillsborough County has worked hard on your behalf to reduce those rates by adopting proactive floodplain management requirements to reduce flood risk across the county,” she wrote in a letter to local homeowners associations. Hummel adds that it doesn’t take a major storm like Hurricane Ian to cause flooding.
“A heavy afternoon downpour can turn into a life-threatening and financially devastating flood in the blink of an eye. Therefore, the county is encouraging all property owners in Hillsborough County to understand their risk for flooding and to purchase flood insurance. Remember, homeowners insurance does not cover water damage from flooding. Only flood insurance covers water damage to your property from a flood or storm surge.”
Residents can find out what flood zone they are in by visiting Hillsborough County’s online map at www.hillsboroughcounty.org and navigating to the Find My Flood Zone page of the website’s Homeowners & Neighborhoods section.