Flood Protection Information

Q. What is a floodplain?

 A.  A floodplain is any land area susceptible to being inundated by water from any source. A Special Flood Hazard Area is the land in the floodplain within a community subject to a one (1) percent chance or greater of flooding in any given year. These zones are designated with an “A” or a “V”.


Manatee County is an extremely flat area which consists of numerous wetlands and floodplains. During rainfall, these areas provide temporary and natural storage for excess water. During our dry season, low lake levels, dry sloughs, creeks, drains and other dry retention areas do not appear to be in a flood hazard area, creating a false impression that flooding is not a problem. To mitigate flood hazards, Manatee County has purchased some of these areas.


Q. What is a storm surge?

A.  A storm surge is an abnormal rise in the sea level, 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coast near where the “eye” of the hurricane makes landfall. The surge of high water, topped by waves is devastating. Along the immediate coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property.


Historical Flood Prone Areas in Unincorporated Manatee County: Flooding in Manatee County results primarily from tidal surge and associated wave action along the coastal areas of the county caused by tropical storms and from overflow of the rivers, creeks, sloughs, etc., caused by rainfall runoff in other areas. Some of these sources include:


Manatee River Gamble Creek Buffalo Canal
Little Manatee River Gap Creek Wares Creek
Lower Manatee River Frog Creek Miguel Bay
Braden River Rattlesnake Slough Terra Ceia Bay
Myakka River Pearce Drain Anna Maria Sound
Bowlees Creek Cedar Hammock Intracoastal Waterway
McMullen Creek Drainage Canal Sarasota Bay
Tampa Bay affects the mouth of Manatee River  


This list is not inclusive as Manatee County has many creeks, sloughs and other watercourses that have been studied and mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and incorporated on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).


Q. How do I know if I live in a Special Flood Hazard Area?

A.  A current survey of your property may contain the flood zone category under the comment section. Land information maps showing flood zones are available on the county website here for general reference only. You will need to activate "FEMA Flood" on the Live Maps tile. You can search by owner, address, or property tax i.d. number.  If the flood zone starts with "A" or "V", these are the high risk zones and flood insurance is typically required; X5 is considered moderate risk and X low risk and flood insurance is not typically required.  For detailed information, contact the Manatee County Building & Development Services Department Floodplain Section, 1112 Manatee Avenue West, 4th floor, 941 748 4501, ext. 3843 or 3815.


The Building & Development Services Department also offers written documentation. For a fee, we will provide a flood information determination. Along with this, we will provide a copy of the Elevation Certificate, if available and the portion of the Flood Insurance Rate Map on which the property lies, both historical FIRM and current FIRM. 


If your structure is in a Special Flood Hazard Area and start of construction was after January 1, 1975, an Elevation Certificate was required to verify that your lowest habitable floor meets the minimum elevation. Some Elevation Certificates are available at www.mymanatee.org/floodprotection. Copies are available in Records Management. You may contact them at 941 748 4501, ext. 6888.


Q. Will my homeowners insurance protect me in case of a flood?

A.  NO. Statistically, there is a 26% chance over the life of a 30-year mortgage of experiencing a flood. However, because Manatee County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy. This is backed by the Federal government and is available to everyone. If you have a mortgage that is federally funded or insured and your structures is in a Special Flood Hazard Area ("A", "AE", "VE") on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, you will be required to have flood insurance. Along some of the bays in Manatee County, land has been designated as part of the Coastal Barrier Resource System. Flood insurance is not available for structures substantially damaged/improved or for new construction in these areas. The Building & Development Services Department Floodplain Section can show you where these areas are located. If you currently have flood insurance, verify the dollar amount and make sure you have contents coverage. The absence of prior flooding problems does not ensure that future flooding will not occur. Areas outside the Special Flood Hazard Area (X shaded and X unshaded) may also flood and account for approximately 20% of all flood claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding. The rates in these zones are reasonable and you may qualify for a Preferred Rate policy. Contact an insurance agent for more information or visit the official National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website, www.floodsmart.gov. Several brochures, fact sheets and booklets are available for download on the Floodplain Management page of the Manatee County website at www.mymanatee.org/floodprotection. Don’t wait for the next flood, as there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect.


Manatee County also is a participant in the Community Rating System (CRS) program of the NFIP. The CRS rewards communities that undertake flood damage mitigation and public awareness activities beyond the NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance policies in the Special Flood Hazard Areas receive a 25% discount and policies within the Non-Special Flood Hazard Areas receive a 10% discount.


Q. What is substantial damage/substantial improvement?

A.  If your structure is in a Special Flood Hazard Area and the cost of repairs/rehabilitation equals or exceeds 50% of its market value before it was damaged or altered, this is considered substantial damage or substantial improvement, and the structure must be elevated to the same requirements as new construction. The Building & Development Services Department Floodplain Section will verify if the construction is a substantial damage or substantial improvement. A building permit will be required for any work.


Q. How can I protect my home?

A.  Some common protection methods which can help reduce flood damage are elevating the structure above the flood elevation, relocating the structure outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area, or adding flood panels over all openings below the flood elevation. For information on methods of protection, you may contact the Building Department/Floodplain Section. Helpful publications, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Publication 312, “Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting”, FEMA Publication 114, “Design Manual for Retrofitting Residential Structures”, and FEMA Publication 102, “Floodproofing Non-Residential Structures”, are available at the Central Library. They may be ordered by calling the FEMA Distribution Center at 1-800-480-2520 or downloaded from the FEMA website, www.fema.gov.  Information on protecting your structure is also available on the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) website at http://www.flash.org/. Several publications and technical bulletins are available for download on the Floodplain Management page of the Manatee County website at www.mymanatee.org/floodprotection.


Any alteration to your building, changing the existing grade, or fill activities in the floodplain requires a permit. Contact the Building & Development Services Department prior to commencing any work for permit requirements. To verify if a contractor is licensed and insured and to provide recourse if a contractor’s performance is unsatisfactory, contact the Licensing Section of the Building & Development Services Department at 941-749-3047.


If requested, the Public Works Department or Building & Development Services Department Floodplain Section will visit a property to review flood problems and explain ways to prevent flood damage, call 941-708-7497 or 941 748 4501, ext. 3843. The solution may be as simple as putting a swale along your property lines.


Caution: Do Not Walk or Drive Through Flood Waters


Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, and more people drown in their cars than anywhere else in an area flooded. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure the ground is still there. Do not drive around road barriers, the road or bridge may be washed out. The number two flood killer is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the FPL Company at 917-0708, 1-800-4OUTAGE, Peace River Electric Cooperative Inc at 1-877-282-3656, or call 911.


Flood waters may be contaminated with oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Direct contact may cause serious health problems.


Q. What are Flood Warning Systems?

A. Residents around Lake Manatee are warned by a siren system when floodgates are opened to reduce the dam water/lake level due to large volumes of rain. The Utilities Department provides a telephone information line (746-3020) that provides Lake Manatee water and release levels.


Door-to-door warning sometimes can also be accomplished with law enforcement or fire department vehicles public address systems.  Flood warnings can be received directly from the National Weather Service by NOAA Weather Alert Receivers. These units are available from local electronic stores.

Manatee County Emergency Management has the ability to warn geographical areas via an automated telephone notification system. When the Emergency Operations Center is activated, Emergency Management will post the latest weather advisory and opened shelters on its website, Emergency Management homepage. The storm track will also be provided for a tropical storm or hurricane. Manatee Government Access (MGA-TV), the county cable channel will be utilized to broadcast information to the public.
Additional television and radio news sources include:


Bay News 9 WFTS Channel 7 WFLA Channel 8
WTSP Channel 10  WTVT Channel 13  WJIS-FM 88.1
WMTX-FM 100.7 WYNF-FM 105.9 WCTQ-FM 106.5
WFLA-AM 970 WBRD-AM 1420 WWPR-AM 1490


All manufactured/mobile home residents in the county must evacuate at all evacuation levels.

You can protect your family and property.  A personal disaster kit should include:


  • Prescription drugs
  • Portable radio
  • Water for 7 days in clean containers
  • Hygiene items
  • Batteries
  • Important Papers
  • Clothing
  • Non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Listen to weather information updates
  • Plan a flood-free evacuation route and destination and notify family/friends of that destination
  • Clear your yard of loose objects
  • Protect your windows and glass doors
  • If sewer lines are damaged or backed up, avoid flushing toilets
  • Secure your boat
  • Turn off the main water, gas, and electric supply
  • Move valuable contents to a safe area
  • Clean and disinfect anything that got wet from flood waters 


Evacuation zones may be seen at Emergency Management Homepage. You may also locate your zone by selecting Maps and using the Interactive Maps. Searches may be done by owner, address, or tax identification number. Shelter information is also available on this webpage.
For assistance in locating your evacuation zone, route, shelter or to register for special needs evacuation assistance, contact the Department of Public Safety at 941-749-3500, or Citizen’s Action Center at 941-742-5800.
Additional information can be found in your telephone book, Manatee County Hurricane Guide, the Manatee County website's Emergency Management homepage, the Federal Emergency Management Agency website www.fema.gov, and the Florida Department of Emergency Management website at www.floridadisaster.org.

Q. How can I help my community?

DO NOT DUMP OR THROW ANYTHING INTO DRAINAGE DITCHES OR STREAMS. This is a violation of Manatee County Ordinances 85-11 and 86-7. Often, grass clippings and branches can accumulate, plug channels, and contribute to flooding. If your property is next to a ditch or stream, keep the banks clear of brush and debris.


Q. Who can I call if I see…


  • Illegal dumping - Utilities 941 792-8811 ext 4969
  • Debris or blockage in County maintained ditches and streams - Stormwater/Drainage 941 708-7497
  • Sewer drainage or backup problem - Utilities Operations 941 795-3411
  • Water main break - Utilities Operations 941 792-8811 ext 5268 or 5216
  • Building activity without a permit - Building & Development Services Department 941 748-2071