Hillsborough County’s landscape has many bodies of water and low-elevation areas that make it a good idea to check how a property is classified in flood and evacuation zones.

With the summer storm season upon us, protecting property, valuables and lives from the effects of foul-weather events, including, but not limited to, hurricanes, becomes a consideration. Knowing what to do and when to do it can depend on understanding terms that are often heard but maybe not well understood, such as flood zones and evacuation zones.

Flood and evacuation zones serve two different purposes, and assigning properties to them is done by different government agencies.

Flood zones are determined by the National Flood Insurance Program and serve to identify areas that could easily flood. Designation within a high-risk flood zone could mean flood insurance is required for a property. Factors such as land elevation, proximity to water bodies and the historical record of floods are considered in determining flood zones.

Evacuation zones identify areas that are at risk of being evacuated during a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or a flood. Local officials determine evacuation zones based on things like an area’s potential for flooding and the availability of safe roads and shelters. You can check which evacuation and flood zone a property is in by visiting www.hillsboroughcounty.org and entering the address in online interactive maps accessible on the website. Information from the maps also include locations of public shelters and an area’s evacuation status.

Some shelters are designated as pet-friendly, and nonhuman family members are welcome at these facilities. County officials say it is important to pay attention and be able to provide for your pet’s needs if moving to a shelter during a disaster.

“It is strongly recommended that everyone bring their own supplies with them; crates, food, water, medication, anything that the pet needs,” said Crissy Leto, who is the program coordinator for Hillsborough County’s pet resource center.

She added that custodians of pets who are not dogs or cats need to be particularly mindful of the animals’ needs.

Residents who require routine medical support such as dialysis and other conditions can register for space at a special needs shelter where medical personnel and equipment are available. Registration can be accomplished online or by mailing or faxing a downloadable form available at www.hillsboroughcounty.org. You can also call the Hillsborough County Health Department at 813-307-8063.

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Brad Stager
Avian-named publications have figured prominently in Brad Stager's career. Besides writing for the Osprey Observer, he started out writing sports articles for the Seahawk, a weekly newspaper serving the military community aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. That position followed a career documenting life in the Fleet, from the Straits of Magellan to the North Arabian Sea, as a Navy Photographer's Mate. Since settling in the Tampa Bay area, Brad has produced a variety of written, visual and aural content for clients ranging from corporate broadcasters to small businesses.