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FEMA Helps Sarasota Residents Navigate New Flood Maps

Ashley Lopez

Federal officials were in Sarasota County this week helping residents get ready for new flood maps. It’s part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA nationwide initiative to update the country’s flood maps.

FEMA’s Susan Wilson was in Sarasota helping homeowners and renters navigate looming changes to the area’s flood maps. Wilson said she’s been assisting local governments and homeowners at similar events all around Florida—and even nationwide.

“These look like they are going to be well attended,” she said. “We’ve had some really good meetings in Broward County and Palm Beach County and the counties around Lake Okeechobee and Collier County.”

The federal agency—as well as some local agencies—set up tables. One station allowed people to look up where their respective houses sit in newly proposed flood maps. Other tables have companies help with finding affordable flood insurance. Another gives people information on how to appeal their property’s status if they feel there’s something wrong.

Joan Peters lives in the Arlington Park Neighborhood in Sarasota. She was one of the many people stopping by to check on their property. Peters said this is really important information for her.

Credit Ashley Lopez / WGCU

She said her property is currently in a flood zone because it’s near a creek. Peters said if that hasn’t changed with the new maps it could affect her plans.

“If the zoning was changed, I might consider staying where I am and maybe building an addition,” she explained. “Otherwise, I am going to move.”

Homebuilders and landowners also attended the event. Many say these new maps could have a big impact on their businesses. Harvey Wasserman said he was relieved to hear some of his properties in Sarasota will no longer be in a flood plain.

“I checked two of them and the two that I checked they came out of the flood zone,” Wasserman said. “I don’t know if I had luck today or if I just had the right addresses.”

Many homeowners in North Port are not expected to be so lucky. More than 20,000 properties are going to be shifted into high risk flood zones with the new maps.

Sarasota and FEMA officials said the new maps should be in place in about a year. Property owners will have time to appeal any problems with the maps before then. 

Click here for more information about Sarasota County's prospective flood maps.

Ashley Lopez is a reporter forWGCUNews. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree.
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